OPINION: The Glenn report contained one truly terrible idea.
Family violence being such a bad thing, it proposed shifting the burden of proof on to the perpetrator. Please note it didn't say the "accused" perpetrator or the "alleged" perpetrator.
So the thinking seems to be that if anyone is going to have a hard time proving what really happened, it should be the one who has been fingered from the get-go as the baddy.
And, easy as that, the notion of anyone being presumed innocent until proven guilty is discarded as an unhelpful indulgence.
Well it isn't. Quite rightly the Government has gagged on the very notion. [Though more heft to the enforcement of protection orders wouldn't go amiss, we grant you].
The rest of the Glenn report could almost effortlessly be dismissed as a catalogue of familiar reproaches and calls for government agencies to lift their game by being more collaborative, keeping better records, and training and resourcing their personnel to a higher standard.
No great surprises or leaps of insight there. But that doesn't make them bad ideas, or unnecessary, or unachievable.
Opposition parties are already talking about the need for a cross-party strategy, though it's unlikely a lot of public heat will go on to the Government to agree to that. People aren't usually inclined to the view that serious problems are best confronted by greater use of political huddles.
A more precise understanding of the inquiry's thinking should emerge in follow-up of economic analysis and blueprint solutions later this year. Let's see what that contains.
Although programmes for reform and improvement, certainly in the Family Court, are already under way, the Government will have a hard job to convince us it can tweak its way out of this one.
Because for all its faults, you have to give the Glenn report one thing: it isn't amplifying a problem out of all proportion.
- The Southland Times
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