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Angry mothers' groups manufacture another reason to exclude separated Dads

Under changes to the Family Law Act (1975) adopted by the Howard government in 2006, the Family Court is required to apply the presumption that shared parenting is in a child's best interests, except where there is violence.

Interesting that this article (below), from The Australian, by Caroline Overington, immediately takes the side of the mother about how mothers are allegedly forced to stay where they don't want to be, and of course Elspeth McInnes start sprouting off.  The court didn't say she couldn't leave the town, it said she couldn't leave with the daughter.

Why would a mother want to take their daughter away from her father?

Why doesn't Caroline OVerington write about the many fathers who have had their children removed from them by mothers via relocations hundreds or thousands of kilometres away?

Elspeth McInnes, and her ilk, are at it again … asserting that children don't need fathers.

This time they are peddling the notion that mothers should have the absolute right to relocate the children away from the father.

Their motivation is supported by a view that mothers (and women) 'own' children, who belong to them, and that fathers are not 'real' parents.

Caroline Overington supports this female ownership idea:
Caroline Overington said
The mother in the northwest Queensland case, known in court transcripts as Mrs Rosa, got married in 2000 and had her child in 2002.  (Emphasis added.)
Children have two parents and get maximum preparation for and benefit from life from having both parents involved in their lives.  They don't need one parent arbitrarily shutting out the other parent.

You can send a letter or complain to the Editor about the bias in this article by emailing:

Letters to the Editor @ The Australian

Rosa & Rosa [2009] FamCAFC 81 (15 May 2009)

The judgement for this case can be read at Austlii:

Rosa & Rosa [2009] FamCAFC 81 (15 May 2009)
http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/cases/cth/FamCAFC/2009/81.html

Or download this PDF version (300KB):

Attachment
Rosa & Rosa FCA Full Court Judgement 81-2009 - 15 May 2009


The following remarks by the judge were surprisingly absent from the Australian article:
32. His Honour then reviewed at length (paragraphs 73 to 88) the mother's evidence. That review led him to the following conclusions:

   89. I gained the distinct impression that the mother was perhaps even unknowingly continuing to minimise and to fail to recognise the importance of the father in the life of this child…

   90. The mother unfortunately gave me the distinct impression that she was somewhat self-centred also in her position with regard to the child. I gained the distinct impression that the mother's view was that there was only one person of priority in relation to the relationship with the child, and that was her. It may be that she was, and remains the primary carer of the child. It may be that the relationship between the father and the child, and the mother and the child are different relationships but the mother's apparent failure to recognise in any way, shape or form, the importance to [the child] of growing up with a close and fostered bond and interaction with the father is telling and is troubling in relation to these proceedings.
44. Again in the context of this particular matter, his Honour reiterated his concerns regarding the mother's capacity to foster the child's relationship with the father:

   115. Unfortunately as is perhaps obvious from the comments I have made, I do have some real concerns about the mother's capacity to properly appreciate the emotional needs of this child in relation to a fostered relationship and a developing relationship with the father. I gained the distinct impression that the mother lacked considerably a capacity to appreciate that need and that it was a factor again, weighing far more significantly in favour of the father's proposals than of those of the mother.
45. The next additional consideration his Honour regarded as "significant" was s 60CC(3)(i), being "the attitude to the child, and to the responsibilities of parenthood, demonstrated by each of the child's parents". He commented in this regard:

   117. … there are very many positives that both parents show in relation to their parenting of the child. But as is clear, it is of concern to me that there is a lack of appreciation on the part of the mother of the very real need to foster and develop a relationship with the father and that is a failing that gives rise to a concern as to the mother's proposals in relation to this matter.

The original FMC judgement Rosa & Rosa [2008] FMCAfam 427 (1 April 2008) can be found on Austlii or download as a PDF (280KB) here:

Attachment
Rosa & Rosa FMC Judgement 427-2008 - 1 April 2008

Article from The Australian

The Australian
29 May 2009

Parent law ties women to men
By Caroline Overington

Wives who follow their husbands to remote corners of Australia in search of work may find themselves stuck in their new home town, unable to leave with the children.

The Family Court has ruled that new shared-parenting laws, brought in by the Howard government in 2006, mean that the right of a child to have a relationship with both parents trumps the right of a mother to return to her home state, even if she has lived in the new location for less than a year.

In the most recent case, the court ruled that a 34-year-old mother could not leave an "isolated" town in northwest Queensland with her five-year-old daughter after her marriage broke down, because it would rupture the close relationship the girl had with her father.

The case has prompted concern among family law experts that the shared-parenting law is effectively forcing people "back into failed relationships".

Elspeth McInnes, a researcher in family law at the University of South Australia, cited research by the Family Law Council that suggested the right of women to relocate after divorce had essentially been lost, under the amendments to the Family Law Act.

"Previously, judges were prepared to consider the idea that women or mums could go where there is extended family support for them and their children," Ms McInnes said.

"Under the new laws, the meaningful relationship with both parents has moved up (to take greater priority).

"There are still ways to say the child is better served by returning to the town where she was born but basically, judges are telling resident parents, mainly women, that they have to stay put.

"They subordinate women's time with their children around a husband's work demands."

The mother in the northwest Queensland case, known in court transcripts as Mrs Rosa, got married in 2000 and had her child in 2002.

She lived with her husband in Sydney until 2007, when he got a job as a mining engineer in a remote part of Queensland. The town is not named in the transcript, but is described as "isolated".

The Rosas moved up as a family, but after eight months, the husband told the wife that the marriage was over, put her possessions in boxes, and put them on the deck.

Mrs Rosa, 34, took their daughter back to her mother's house in Sydney but the father petitioned the Family Court for their return, saying he wanted to maintain a relationship with his child.

During court proceedings, the mother argued that the father could quit his job and return to Sydney and share custody of their daughter in their home town.

He declined, saying his job had become important and was "interesting".

Under changes to the Family Law Act (1975) adopted by the Howard government in 2006, the Family Court is required to apply the presumption that shared parenting is in a child's best interests, except where there is violence.

The court ruled that the mother could not leave northwest Queensland with the child. She argued that she was isolated and impoverished. She lives in a caravan, because it is the only accommodation she can afford. She appealed to the Full Court of the Family Court, which upheld the decision on May 15.

The federal magistrate said the mother's plan to move would have a "most serious and detrimental effect upon the very close and important relationship that exists (between the daughter and her Dad)".

"In my assessment, the only means by which there can be a proper and appropriate relationship facilitated between this child and both parents is for the child to remain in northwest Queensland," he said.

He accepted the mother's "feelings of isolation and feeling of depression" about being stuck in the town where her marriage ended with little support. She said she would never leave without her daughter.

The federal magistrate had doubts about the mother's willingness to foster a relationship between the father and the child.

Family law academic Barbara Biggs, who last month organised a series of protests in major capital cities to highlight problems with the new Family Law Act, said the shared parenting laws presume that the parents "can co-operate, and get on".

"In many cases, these are couples that can't co-operate over what shelf to put the milk," Ms Biggs said. "It's a dreadful situation, to force a woman to live in a town where she has no family and no work, and to say that's the only way the child can be raised."


Comments by Readers of The Australian

Shaun of Sydney Posted at 1:21pm 29 May 2009

I agree with Marnie (12:38pm). As a father with sole custody of my 9 year old son and whilst his mother sees him alternate weekends, I am still restricted from moving interstate by virtue of the court agreement stating that the parent that moves more than a specified distance from my current home must bear all costs related to my son's travel between residences. This would be prohibitively expensive if I were to move interstate. Whilst I'm glad that I got custody of my son prior to the Shared Parental Responsibility legislation, I do think that the new legislation is a step in the right direction as traditionally fathers have been unfairly disadvantaged. In the cases of PROVEN domestic abuse, the case should be reviewed differently, but the AVO system is grossly abused by women seeking more favourable custody terms. I've been there myself and fortunately Magistrates are becoming more dismissive of frivolous AVO actions brought by women in this situation. In principle, I agree with the Family Court decision although one size does not fit all. Maybe some consideration should be given to the place of residence that a couple resided at most during their previous 5 years together.


Shaf of Sydney Posted at 1:17pm 29 May 2009

I agree with Matthew, the family residence has become the new town. Who ever wishes to leave should not be allowed to take the child. Fathers are not always the evil part of the equation and they do have custody rights as well. What if the mum was just borred in the small town and wanted to leave (i.e no abuse etc..) should she be allowed to distroy the child relationship with her dad? The child rights are (and should) be put ahead of both parents. I think the court has advanced men's rights to child custody which have traditionaly been undermined.


George of Barossa Posted at 1:05pm 29 May 2009

If the husband packed up the woman's possessions and put them outside; then he effectively threw her out of the house. As far as I am concerned he forfeits the right to determine what the woman should do. Is this the sort of fatherly action that the courts consider a child should be a part of? The mother should be given the preferred parenting rights in situations such as this.

Read all the Comments


Also other comments can be read and added to at Fathers 4 Equality.
The Shared Parenting Council was instrumental in a number of major changes to the Act and makes no apologies for the current wordings in many sections. There is nothing in this case that should be considered extraordinary. The mother is free to relocate. The court is simply maintaining the right of the child to have a meaningful relationship with both parents. Previously to the implementation of the new Act, we had extraordinary situations where after separation fathers and mothers were left in despair, unable to see the children who were often relocated from not only the other parent but from the child's own school mates and grandparents, sometimes thousands of kilometres away.
Elspeth said
There are still ways to say the child is better served by returning to the town where she was born but basically, judges are telling resident parents, mainly women, that they have to stay put.
Separation now has to be thought about, rather than a disposable arrangement, that has to ensure both parents have involvement in the child's life. We make no apologies for that unless there are other factors / provisions which we have clearly included in the Act such as violence and sexual abuse… There are sections of the Act that afford all protection against violence so what is the problem?
Family law academic Barbara Biggs, who last month organised a series of protests in major capital cities to highlight problems with the new Family Law Act said
The shared parenting laws presume that the parents 'can co-operate, and get on'.

In many cases, these are couples that can't co-operate over what shelf to put the milk. It's a dreadful situation, to force a woman to live in a town where she has no family and no work, and to say that's the only way the child can be raised.
I am not sure what Shared Parenting Laws she is referring to. There is no law in place that suggests Shared Parenting other than Shared Parental Responsibility sections of the Act and then on to section 65DAA of the Act that considers time. There was never a presumption of equal time parenting enacted and it is quite wrong for these radical and alarmist reformists to suggest that the Act forces shared parenting to the detriment of the child.  

What is clear in the 2007 amendments to the Act,  is that you cannot simply stop contact, just relocate and rip the child or children out of the life of all other family, extended family and friends.

The Council makes absolutely no apology for getting that concept into place. We will continue to advocate even further changes to ensure overnight contact is maintained early after separation. Anything else is simply unacceptable where violence is not an issue.


Executive Secretary - Shared Parenting Council of Australia
 Was my post helpful? If so, please let others know about the FamilyLawWebGuide whenever you see the opportunity
 

Caroline Overington Hates Separated Fathers

Two variants of a similar article by father-hater Caroline Overington, who must be seeking family law changes before her own child custody matters reach court.*
Fathers4Equality said
Ash Patil notes in an email dated 3 June 2009:

It seems that The Australian is on a bizarre campaign to repeal Australia's current 'shared parenting' laws, and has today published 2 more articles on this matter, making it 4 stories in 5 days.

Again, there is ZERO attempt at balanced reporting where only one side is being reported, making it look like uncontested fact.

Some facts you may need to know:

(i) The journalist involved in the campaign "Caroline Overington" is a recently separated mother currently in the midst of an acrimonious separation. One may reasonably speculate from her behaviour that she seems to be in a rush to repeal these laws in time for her own custody hearing. (Appended below.*)

(ii) She has refused to respond to our emails, take our calls and has never published any of the information we have provided her on shared care.

(iii) We have written to the editor of The Australian repeatedly about the importance of balanced reporting with no response at all.

(iv) Judgments referred to in these articles are incorrectly portrayed, with serious and substantive omissions in reporting.

(v) No experts with differing views have ever been contacted much less reported on. There is a significant volume of information on the benefits of these laws to children, which is being completely ignored in these articles.

(vi) These articles emphasise an unhealthy attitude of mother's rights being of greater importance that a child's best interests. This message is worrying and unacceptable given he risks that children are already exposed to.

Family Law experts slate shared-parenting

The Australian
3 June 2009

Family Law experts slate shared-parenting
By Caroline Overington

The shared-parenting law introduced by the Howard government is deeply flawed and must be either amended or thrown out and replaced with something new.

That is the view of Patrick Parkinson, who was chairman of the Family Law Council when the legislation was being developed, and the council's current chairman, John Wade.

Professor Wade told The Australian the Family Law Amendment (Shared Parental Responsibility) Act of 2006, designed to give children access to both their parents after divorce, was incoherent, "filled with gobbledegook" and failed to give judges "the clear signals they need to make good decisions".

"So there have been some horrible decisions," Professor Wade added.

In one recent case, known as
ERROR: A link was posted here (url) but it appears to be a broken link.
Irish and Michelle (appended below), the Family Court ordered that two Tasmanian children be removed from the care of their mother, with whom they had lived all their lives, to live with their father, who had moved to Melbourne to be with his new girlfriend.

There was no abuse or neglect.

The judge thought the mother had not encouraged the children to maintain a relationship with their father after he left home.

In another case, known as
ERROR: A link was posted here (url) but it appears to be a broken link.
Rosa and Rosa, heard in Townsville last month, a mother was told she could not leave a remote mining town  (appended below) in northwest Queensland with her five-year-old daughter because her ex-husband wanted to stay there and work.

The couple had lived there less than a year before they broke up and the mother, who said she would not leave without her daughter, is now confined to poverty, and life in a caravan.

Professor Wade said the new laws set up false expectations for fathers, who believed it would guarantee them a 50-50 time split with their children, and it condemned other children, including infants, to a damaging cross-country "shuttle life" between warring parents.

Professor Parkinson said the amendment did not give clear signals, nor give judges enough guidance on when shared parenting was appropriate and when it was not.

"There have been some cases where children under the age of two are doing week-about (one week with the father, one with the mother) and often travelling long distances," Professor Parkinson said.

"Young children often do well with frequent contact with both parents, but it is important to avoid long separations from the primary caregiver.

"If you've got mum and dad living around the corner it might be fine because frequent short visits are possible."

'Flaws' in John Howard's parenting law

The Australian
3 June 2009

'Flaws' in John Howard's parenting law
By Caroline Overington

The shared-parenting law introduced by the Howard government is deeply flawed and must be either amended or thrown out and replaced with something new.

That is the view of Patrick Parkinson, who was chairman of the Family Law Council when the legislation was being developed, and the council's current chairman, John Wade.

Professor Wade said the Family Law Amendment (Shared Parental Responsibility) Act of 2006, designed to give children access to both their parents after divorce, was incoherent, "filled with gobbledegook" and failed to give judges "the clear signals they need to make good decisions".

"So there have been some horrible decisions," Professor Wade added. He said it set up false expectations for fathers, who believed it would guarantee them a 50-50 time split with their children, and it condemned other children, including infants, to a damaging cross-country "shuttle life" between warring parents.

Professor Parkinson said the amendment did not give clear signals, nor give judges enough guidance on when shared parenting was appropriate and when it was not.

"There have been some cases where children under the age of two are doing week-about (one week with the father, one with the mother) and often travelling long distances," Professor Parkinson said. "Young children often do well with frequent contact with both parents, but it is important to avoid long separations from the primary caregiver.

"If you've got mum and dad living around the corner it might be fine because frequent short visits are possible."

He said the law needed "tweaking". "It's sometimes that the parliament needs to send clear signals," he said. "This is not a coherent piece of legislation."

The Australian has recently reported on Family Court decisions that have troubled some family law experts. In one case, known as Irish and Michelle, the Family Court ordered that two Tasmanian children be removed from the care of their mother, with whom they had lived all their lives, to live with their father, who had moved to Melbourne to be with his new girlfriend. There was no abuse or neglect.

The judge thought the mother had not encouraged the children to maintain a relationship with their father after he left home.

In another case, known as Rosa and Rosa, heard in Townsville last month, a mother was told she could not leave a remote mining town in northwest Queensland with her five-year-old daughter because her ex-husband wanted to stay there and work. The couple had lived there less than a year before they broke up and the mother, who said she would not leave without her daughter, is now confined to poverty, and life in a caravan.

Professor Parkinson said judges in different states were interpreting the law differently. In Victoria and Western Australia, for example, parents were more likely to be allowed to relocate with a child after a divorce than in NSW.

The Family Law Council - a statutory body established in 1976 to give the attorney-general advice on whether family law is working, and which comprises judges, lawyers and family law academics - recently compiled a paper on shared parenting that found a "new breed" of family disputes had cropped up in the Family Court since the shared parenting amendment was enacted, "namely attempts to stop the primary residential parent from moving within or across a city".

Some members of the council are also concerned about the "undisputed damage to young children engaged in shuttle lives".




Judge punishes mother for allowing children to be angry with father

The Australian
31 March 2009

Judge punishes mother for allowing children to be angry with father
By Caroline Overington

- Father moved with girlfriend to Melbourne
- Mum 'didn't encourage positive feelings'
- Takes children out of mother's care

Two children have been sent to live with their father after a court ruled the mother encouraged "negative" feelings about their dad.

The two children - a girl, aged nine, and a boy, aged seven - had been struggling with "change overs" between parents, saying things such as "I don't want to go" and "I don't have to go" when their father arrived in Tasmania from Melbourne to collect them for access visits, The Australian reports.

The Family Court found the mother did not discourage them from saying these things, and did not encourage a positive relationship between the children and their father.

The children told counsellors they were angry their father had left their mother, and lived with his new girlfriend in Melbourne.

Family Court judge Robert Benjamin said the children "clearly wanted" to stay with their mother, who had been their primary carer since birth, and acknowledged the "disruption to the children's family unit and their stability if they were to move to Melbourne to live with their father".

But Justice Benjamin said the "mother could see what was happening at change overs and did little about it".
Justice Benjamin said the girl, B, was becoming "emotionally estranged from her father" and was at risk of "psychological damage, if not psychiatric damage" if she was not allowed to have a relationship with her father.

The decision was made under new laws, introduced by the Howard Government, that require the Family Court to adopt the presumption of "shared parenting" when dealing with children of divorce.

Justice Benjamin ordered the children be removed from their mother's care, and to see her for school holidays and Mother's Day. She is also entitled to a phone call "each Sunday between 6.30pm and 7.30pm".

The court took evidence from a psychologist who helped facilitate a changeover between the parents on June 27 last year.

When the time came for the children to get into the car with their father, the girl "started what can only be described as a mantra, or a chant".

"She kept repeating: 'I don't want to go' and 'I don't have to go'," the psychologist told the court.

"When her father greeted her, she (said), 'I hate you'."

B gave the psychologist a list that said: "I don't want to go with my father because he tells lies, he hurts me, he left our family and he has got a girlfriend and I don't like her."


Family Court forces mum to stay in isolated town after split

The Australian
29 May 2009

Family Court forces mum to stay in isolated town after split
By Caroline Overington

- Couple split after moving to remote town
- Court says mum cannot leave with daughter
- Dad wants her near and won't leave job

Wives who follow their husbands to remote corners of Australia in search of work may find themselves stuck in their new home town, unable to leave with the children.

The Family Court has ruled that new shared-parenting laws, brought in by the Howard government in 2006, mean that the right of a child to have a relationship with both parents trumps the right of a mother to return to her home state, even if she has lived in the new location for less than a year.

In the most recent case, the court ruled that a 34-year-old mother could not leave an "isolated" town in northwest Queensland with her five-year-old daughter after her marriage broke down, because it would rupture the close relationship the girl had with her father.

The case has prompted concern among family law experts that the shared-parenting law is effectively forcing people "back into failed relationships".

Elspeth McInnes, a researcher in family law at the University of South Australia, cited research by the Family Law Council that suggested the right of women to relocate after divorce had essentially been lost, under the amendments to the Family Law Act.

"Previously, judges were prepared to consider the idea that women or mums could go where there is extended family support for them and their children," Ms McInnes told The Australian.

The mother in the northwest Queensland case, known in court transcripts as Mrs Rosa, got married in 2000 and had her child in 2002.

She lived with her husband in Sydney until 2007, when he got a job as a mining engineer in a remote part of Queensland. The town is not named in the transcript, but is described as "isolated".

The Rosas moved up as a family, but after eight months, the husband told the wife that the marriage was over, put her possessions in boxes, and put them on the deck.

Mrs Rosa, 34, took their daughter back to her mother's house in Sydney but the father petitioned the Family Court for their return, saying he wanted to maintain a relationship with his child.

During court proceedings, the mother argued that the father could quit his job and return to Sydney and share custody of their daughter in their home town.

He declined, saying his job had become important and was "interesting".

The court ruled that the mother could not leave northwest Queensland with the child. She argued that she was isolated and impoverished. She lives in a caravan, because it is the only accommodation she can afford. She appealed to the Full Court of the Family Court, which upheld the decision on May 15.

The federal magistrate said the mother's plan to move would have a "most serious and detrimental effect upon the very close and important relationship that exists (between the daughter and her Dad)".

Family law academic Barbara Biggs said: "It's a dreadful situation, to force a woman to live in a town where she has no family and no work, and to say that's the only way the child can be raised."




Two articles FYI which point to Caroline Overington's journalistic conflict of interest: Vindictive loser in love and thus on a man/father-hating crusade.

Caroline Overington denies slapping George Newhouse

NEWS.com.au
24 November 2007

Caroline Overington denies slapping George Newhouse
By staff writers and wires

Caroline Overington & George Newhouse

One of Australia's most prominent newspaper reporters has denied slapping a Labor candidate at a polling station in eastern Sydney today.
Caroline Overington from The Australian newspaper has admitted to being involved in a physical confrontation with George Newhouse outside of a polling station in Sydneys east.

She has said that rather than slap him she "pushed" him with an "open hand".

Polling booth attendants and voters said Ms Overington walked up to Labor candidate for Wentworth George Newhouse at a polling station, shouted at him and then struck him across the face before walking away.

One witness at the Bellevue Hill Public school polling booth said Ms Overington yelled abuse and appeared furious.

At first we thought who was this woman yelling at Newhouse, then she slapped him and we realised it was Caroline Overington, the witness said.

Editor-in-chief of The Australian Chris Mitchell said Ms Overington had denied slapping Mr Newhouse and had had no idea he would be at the same voting booth she was attending with her seven-year-old twins.

She admitted pushing him away with an open hand when he approached her, later apologised for doing so and said she regretted there had been any further contact with the candidate.

There was an incident and we are considering our options, Mr Newhouse's spokeswoman said. It was Ms Overington.

Ms Overington, a Walkley-winning reporter, has been embroiled in a spat over a series of emails to independent candidate Dani Ecuyer in which she urged Ms Ecuyer to preference Wentworth Liberal MP Malcolm Turnbull. Ms Ecuyer is the ex-girlfriend of Mr Newhouse.

The drama began last month, when ABCs Media Watch ran a segment on the emails to Ms Ecuyer.

It was later revealed that Ms Overington also sent a series of flirtatious emails to Mr Newhouse, which were then published in rival papers.

In one email sent on October 9, published by the Sydney Morning Herald, Ms Overington asked the candidate to meet her in Bondi.

Hey there  Let's chat today, shall we? I could come out to Bondi, since I live there. And now you are single, I might even make a pass at you, she reportedly said in the email.

Ms Overington later explained in her blog on this website that her emails were playful in tone.

With AAP


Overington slapped with email expose

National Nine News
17:00 AEST Sat 24 November 2007

Overington slapped with email expose
By Wade O'Leary, ninemsn

Caroline Overington & George Newhouse

Caroline Overington is a Walkley award-winning journalist who has been in the spotlight before  not least for hugging Rupert Murdoch on stage  but recent interactions with George Newhouse and Danielle Ecuyer that ended with the reporter slapping the Labor candidate have really drawn attention.

Her October 8 article in The Australian, contrasting the ex-lovers and now political opponents as "a tall, blonde divorcee" and "short, dark (and) Jewish" respectively, was a bone of contention between Overington and Newhouse when they exchanged emails the next day.

Overington suggested they meet, and added: "now you are single, I might even make a pass at you".

Newhouse referred to her description of him and mentioned that she was married, but Overington said she had separated five months ago and "I might like short, dark and Jewish, you never know."

But when Newhouse hadn't replied 20 minutes later, Overington's tone was very different: "Either you say yes to a photograph smiling and happy and out campaigning, or we stake you out  and get you looking like a cat caught in a trap, in your PJs. Your choice."

Newhouse replied "that doesn't sound like burying the hatchet" and asked why her tone had changed, to which Overington wrote: "Because we ran a piece today saying you're a scaredy cat that needs ALP minders and can't run your own campaign. You're saying it ain't so. So why are you still hiding from us? Let's be pals."

After an hour without a reply, Overington warned "we are sending a bloke out at 1pm. We do not have all day, George" and followed that an hour later with: "We're out the front of your house, and your office, just so you know."

Four days later, Overington wrote in the Weekend Australian that Ecuyer planned to direct preferences away from Newhouse  but then emailed her on October 26 asking how she was going to preference.

Newhouse's ex-girlfriend replied that "no sweetie it is way too early, let's see what happens on policy from the major parties  if anything".

But the amicable tone disappeared when Overington wrote: "please preference Malcolm. It would be such a good front page story. Also, he'd be a loss to the parliament and George  forgive me  would be no gain".

Ecuyer forwarded the emails to the ABC's Media Watch program and said she was "disgusted to have been lobbied by a journalist from The Australian for my preferences  it's interference with a candidate. Journalists and the media are supposed to be non-biased".

Overington responded that "I didn't ask her to send her preferences to any candidate" and claimed the preferencing gambit "could be a way of getting a story from her".

But then Newhouse leaked his emails, and what we can only assume was a retaliatory slap from Overington has seen her provide everybody else with a story instead.

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