April 2016 | Les Stubbs

It will come as no great shock to most people that the world is a large place. Different countries have different cultures, languages, customs and practices – even currencies! That extends to many countries having different laws, from criminal laws, to commercial laws, to family laws. So who made the Channel 9 60 Minutes reporters the legal representatives of Australia on the world stage? Why is Kevin Rudd mounting a campaign to be elected to the United Nations, if he can just ask for a job with 60 Minutes?

Here is a news scoop for the 60 Minutes reporters – Lebanon has a different family law system to Australia. So do most middle eastern countries, south east Asian countries, China, Japan, some European countries….in fact, the family law system in Australia does not “govern the world”.

Having endured the visual torment in 2012 of watching on 60 Minutes the Vincente sisters being physically “dragged kicking and screaming” by AFP officers, because international laws required it, why are we now being subjected to a potential re run with the Faulkner children? So much for learning from your mistakes.

So why do the 60 Minutes reporters think that they can impose Australian law in Lebanon? Do we want Sharia law imposed in Australia? Ignorance of the law is no defence to a crime, especially if you paid for the criminal actions (which 60 Minutes has denied doing).

Is “recovering” a child justified under Australian law?

Perhaps Channel 9, and 60 Minutes, can’t afford to pay for researchers anymore? If so, here’s some free legal advice, which they could have obtained by asking me before they flew to Lebanon – the Australian and Lebanese Governments formally entered into the “Agreement Regarding Cooperation on Protecting The Welfare of Children”, on 18 March 2009. The Agreement was made in both English and Arabic.

The Agreement makes interesting reading, as it follows the provisions of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, and the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations. It specifically recognizes “that the best interests of children are treated of primary importance in matters relating to parents’ rights of custody and access to their children” – which mirrors the Family Law Act in Australia!

There is difference between reporting the news, and making it. There are legal processes to follow in such cases, and in fact it is reported that Ms Faulkner may have followed the correct legal processes, prior to the attempted abduction. The attempted abduction may now have cruelled her legal prospects of properly recovering the children.

I often see parents devastated by separation from their children and desperate to re-establish contact. Professional child snatchers rely and depend upon such desperation. The ABC has reported that the child snatchers who carried out the Faulkner attempted abduction have reportedly been jailed previously.

No matter how badly you want your children back, knowledge of the relevant applicable laws is essential before taking any action. Don’t act impulsively and jeopardise your children’s long term welfare. Always speak to a lawyer, who can assess your case and advise you properly. There is no need to risk ending up in a prison cell.

Written by Les Stubbs
Director – Family Law
(02) 9023 9111

Les Stubbs is one of the most experienced and senior family lawyers in Sydney.  To make an appointment, please email lstubbs@hflawyers.com.au or
call (02) 9023 9111.