CultureWatch

Bill Muehlenberg's commentary on issues of the day...

The Year of the Family Fiasco

Apr 2, 1994

With one quarter of the International Year of the Family already passed, an assessment of how it has thus far progressed seems in order. In a nutshell, if the first 90 days are anything to go by, the Year is a waste of time.

First, consider the Federal Government’s handling of the Year. It is reported that the appointed Council had threatened to resign en masse late last year because of frustration with the way the Government was dragging its feet on the Year. Indeed, every time I call the IYF Council office, a new person has replaced the last person I spoke with. Even the Chair of the Council, Jennifer Rowe, resigned last June, to be replaced by Bettina Cass. (I assume she is still there.)

A further indication of the Government’s bungling of the Year is the television ad which they produced. If you haven’t seen it, don’t worry – I only saw it once, and given how bad it is, it’s not surprising if the Government pulled it. The ad features an amorphous, androgynous thing prancing around, hugging trees. That’s it! So fearful is the Government of producing anything that even remotely smacks of political incorrectness, that it couldn’t even bear to feature a real child, let alone a mother or a father. The gender-neutral object featured in the ad is the epitome of a Government that has long ago caved in to the feminist lobby, homosexual lobby, and other fringe groups that are anti-family at heart.

Another indication of bureaucratic bungling is the newsletter produced by the Office of the IYF. Its January/February arrived by mail to the Australian Family Association office on March 28! Not only was it late, but no less than six separate copies were mailed to my office. No wonder they long ago blew all their budget allocated for the IYF. Typical bureaucratic mismanagement, it seems. Better to have taken the $4 million allocated for the Year and given it to needy families.

The Government’s mis-handling of the Year in particular, and its shabby treatment of families in general, is even getting some Labor politicians upset. The Premier of Queensland, Mr Goss, said recently that traditional families are feeling ignored. Said Mr Goss, “I think certainly the traditional family in Australia often feels that its needs are ignored in policy and decision making. . . .Many mothers who are full-time mothers and homemakers felt that they’re penalised in terms of the tax rates.”

Politicians from other parties have also gotten into the act. Tim Fischer of the National Party said the Year was in danger of being made a “mockery” by seeking to “legitimise alternative lifestyles and relationships.” He said the debate “has been dominated by quite tiny minorities within the community . . . such as homosexual groupings and so forth.” Instead,1994 should “concentrate on finding ways to help the traditional extended family work better, for a happier, healthier, and safer society.”

Also, John Anderson of the Nationals said debate about the IYF had so far shown “a worrying tendency to selfishness” in terms of how the needs of children are being considered. He said the best environment for children was in the setting of the two-parent family, and said Government talk of including homosexual couples as families was shortsighted, and not in the best interests of children.

Jocelyn Newman, Shadow Minister for the Family and Health, came under attack when she suggested that two-parent families were the ideal, and homosexual couples should not be included in the IYF. Some of the strongest attacks on her came from the ranks of the Young Liberals.

Major General “Digger” James, president of the Returned Servicemen League, also said the IYF was in danger of being shipwrecked. Speaking in Brisbane recently he said the IYF was “being hijacked by political folly, political deceit and expediency.” He strongly condemned the Government’s attempt to include homosexual relationships in the definition of family: “The concept of family for which [World War II heroes] died was that of a man and woman – married to each other – and their children. It did not include two males, or two females living together as now endorsed by government policy.”

He said the Government was badly advised to sponsor the concept of a family which was any group of people living together: “This concept is being promoted with all the sad and misguided fervour of the ideology which promoted political correctness. This is very different to the meaning of family.” “It is a folly for which our nation may well pay dearly,” he added.

Magazine editor Ita Buttrose, speaking at a IYF luncheon in Sydney, criticised the feminist version of reality. She was quoted as saying: “We’ve been brainwashed (because) we believe that a woman who wants to be a complete woman must be in the workforce, otherwise she is considered dumb, incompetent and insignificant.”

She added, “You might also agree that the advent of the working mother has to be the worst thing that has happened to the family.”

And the Father of the Year, Reverend Bill Crews, recently said that the Year of the Family was in danger of paying no more than “lip-service” to families.

The voices of protest are thus increasing in frequency and intensity.  And with good reason. The Federal Government has made a mockery of the Year of the Family. By catering to every minority and fringe group, and by refusing to recognise legitimate families and their aspirations, the Government has shown its total disregard for the family.

Indeed, given its promotion of activities like the Gay Mardi Gras, the Government should lay all its cards on the table, and rename the Year the International Year of the Homosexual, or the International Year of Deviancy. But it certainly should not be mouthing platitudes about the family while doing everything in its power to undermine and alienate the traditional family.

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