HOW much does it cost to raise a child?
That's the question independent state election candidate Bruce Diamond is asking as he seeks to tackle the complex issue of Australia's child support system.
"It reduces its victims to tears and it's plainly flawed," said Mr Diamond, the former radio and television news reader and candidate for the seat of Rockhampton.
He said he had been inspired by contact with men and women pushed to the verge of mental and financial breakdown by the inflexible and complicated rules.
"This is a federal matter, but none of the federal members seem interested in addressing it despite the cruel impact it has on hundreds of thousands of men and women across the country," said Mr Diamond, who raised his daughter single-handedly without a cent in financial contributions from his former wife.
"The formula makes no sense to me because the basic cost of raising a child is the same whether you are earning $32,000 or $132,000. But some people are paying more than 27% of their gross income in child support and there are various payment tiers depending on income. I've spoken to people who have broke down and cried at the injustice of it all and it is obvious to me that it is causing a lot of stress and unnecessary financial pressures."
Mr Diamond is starting a petition which he would table in the Queensland Parliament if elected, calling for a wholesale review of child support.
"There must be a fairer, simpler, system available that deals with people in a common-sense way," he said.
"I've not spoken to one absent father or mother who doesn't agree with making a contribution to their children. People want to do the right thing, but the system is brutal. I think the first phase has to be a determination of how much it actually costs to raise a child and then base child support contributions on those actual costs."
The petition can be signed electronically by visiting brucediamond.net.au.