Deadbeat dads: State’s $364m shame
QUEENSLAND has the highest number of deadbeat dads per capita who owe a sickening $364 million in child support.
And more than 200 Queensland shirkers - overwhelmingly men - have been prevented from jetting off overseas until they pay their bill.
Human Services Minister Michael Keenan slammed the child support dodgers and revealed that across the country there had been an almost 50 per cent increase in the number of parents slapped with departure prohibition orders so far this financial year.
In Queensland, 54,474 parents owe more than $364 million. The national child support bill is more than $1.6 billion.
Of the 237 Queenslanders issued a departure prohibition order during the first half of this financial year, 49 were stopped at an airport and told they would not be allowed to fly unless they coughed up.
The Federal Government is using new techniques to better identify parents who can afford to pay child support but choose to live it up overseas on holiday or a business trip.
Mr Keenan said some parents were deliberately choosing to do the wrong thing.
"Paying child support is not a choice, it is a moral and legal obligation," he said.
"Those who shirk their responsibilities are literally depriving their children of a better life and we make no apologies for using these tough measures to make them pay. The Government's message to parents is simple; if you can afford an overseas holiday, then you can afford to support your children."
In one shocking example, a Queensland parent had been out of Australia for more than 15 years and racked up a child support debt of $400,000.
The Human Services Department received information the parent was returning to Australia and arranged for a departure prohibition order.
On arrival they were told that they would not be allowed to leave Australia unless they paid the debt. The parent paid a lump-sum of $300,000 and agreed to enter into a repayment plan. "What these examples demonstrate is that many parents have the means to pay, but are deliberately shirking their obligation to support their kids," Mr Keenan said.