What financial ground rules do you have in your family relationships?
Will strangers and officials think your expectations are reasonable?
Will new Queensland laws make you a criminal?
Delta decides to get a grip on the household finances. Delta sends Chas an email saying:
“It’s time you shape up or ship out. You need to be responsible with money or there’s no future for you in Dad’s business.
1. No more pokie machines. Not a dollar. If you start, you won’t stop, so do not start at all.
2. Your pay goes into our joint account.
3. You don’t spend more than $50 on anything without discussing it with me.
4. You don’t spend more than $50 a week on lunches. Make some at home. And no more pies, you already don’t fit the shorts I bought you last month.
5. You don’t spend more than $100 a week in total. You know we’ve budgeted tightly and that’s all we can afford.”
“Economic abuse” will be defined to include “behaviour by a person…that… unreasonably controls another person…—
(a) in a way that denies the second person the economic or financial autonomy the second person would have had….”
“Control” will not be defined.
Delta’s demands clearly restrict the financial autonomy Chas would otherwise have had. Failure to comply could result in Chas losing a livelihood in the business operated by Delta’s father. Failure to comply might also result in Chas no longer being able to remain in Australia, perhaps ultimately being deported. The elements of “economic abuse”, save perhaps for “unreasonable” are satisfied.
Delta might argue that some of the demands are reasonable. Chas might disagree. And here we enter upon the uncertainty created by the concept of “economic abuse” (as defined in the Bill). If a $100 spending allowance is reasonable, would $20 be? Is it reasonable to require your partner to have their wages deposited into a joint account?
We truly are about to let the government start policing the kitchen table conversation.
Criminal Law (Coercive Control and Affirmative Consent) and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2023
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