The Telegraph 3 September 2013
Tony Abbott, Australia’s opposition leader, plans to save and strengthen the
nation’s romantic relationships by offering £120 vouchers for counselling to
couples who get engaged and those already married.
The vouchers will be offered to married couples for conflict resolution or parenting classes, while engaged couples could have pre-marital counselling.
Mr Abbott, a staunch Catholic and the favourite to win Australia’s election on September 7, is married with three daughters but long believed he had a “lost son” from a relationship he had while at school and university. Years later, as a federal minister, Mr Abbott was reunited with the “son”, who was then aged 27, but DNA testing later showed the child was not his.
The vouchers were reportedly a pet project of Mr Abbott’s Liberal party colleague, Kevin Andrews, an MP who is a strong proponent of marriage and last year authored a book called Maybe ’I do’: Modern Marriage and the Pursuit of Happiness. The book says the biggest threat facing the Western world is not climate change or radical Islam, but the “continuing breakdown of the essential structures of civil society — marriage, family and community”.
The Liberal party has proposed to offer about 100,000 “relationship vouchers“ as part of a one-year trial. The vouchers would be offered to same-sex couples despite the opposition of both Mr Abbott and his party to gay marriage.