Commissioner gives sisters a voice

FEDERAL Member for Fairfax Alex Somlyay says the Australian Government's move to appoint a National Children's Commissioner may help the plight of four Sunshine Coast girls locked in a bitter custody battle.

The mother of the four Italian-born girls was ordered to send her daughters back to Italy this month to face custody proceedings after she fled their home country to Australia in 2010.

The legislation to employ a commissioner within the Australian Human Rights Commission was introduced by Federal Attorney-General Nicola Roxon on Wednesday and will be examined by the Coalition at a party meeting on Tuesday.

In a statement, Ms Roxon said the new commissioner would "consult directly with children and young people to ensure their voices are heard and their needs pursued".

Mr Somlyay argued the four sisters were not afforded that voice.

"When I first saw it and Nicola Roxon answered the question, I got excited, because that is an admission by the government that the representation of children's views is currently inadequate," Mr Somlyay said.

"The commissioner is obviously there to overcome the deficiency. And I got excited because that is exactly what the four girls haven't got in this case that is before us.

"Their voices were not being heard."

In the latest development in the highly publicised case, the girls' family was granted the opportunity yesterday to show why they were denied natural justice in Family Court proceedings when they attend another High Court hearing in Brisbane in August.

If successful in August, the matter could go back to the high court.

The ruling means the sisters will remain in Australia until the next court date when the show-cause application will be heard by the full bench.

Mr Somlyay, who wrote to Prime Minister Julia Gillard on the girls' behalf, said he would examine the legislation when he returned to Canberra.



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