real life

What's missing from the story of Tziporah Malkah's family estrangement.

Over the weekend, Stellar magazine published the column “Pru Goward: I will always love my daughter.”

Goward, the NSW Minister for Family and Community Services, Minister for Social Housing, and Minister for the Prevention of Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault, is described by columnist Miranda Devine as “one of the most accomplished women in the country.”

She’s an economist, who began as an ABC political reporter, and was appointed by Prime Minister John Howard to run the Federal Office of the Status of Women.

Holly Wainwright, Jacqueline Lunn and I discuss; is cutting a family member out of your life sometimes the best solution? Post continues below. 

But her professional accomplishments are not the subject of Sunday morning’s column.

Goward, 64, is infamously estranged from her daughter, 43-year-old Tziporah Malkah.

Malkah, formerly Kate Fischer, won the Dolly Covergirl of the Year competition when she was 14, before forging a successful modelling career.

She was engaged to businessman James Packer in the late 90s, before the pair split up, and Fischer moved overseas.

Since, Fischer has legally changed her name to Tziorah Malkah bat Israel to reflect her Jewish faith, and appeared on the most recent season of Channel 10’s ‘I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here.’

Pru Goward and Tziporah Malkah. (Images: Wikipedia/Channel 10)

“It has always been quite a difficult relationship," Malkah said earlier this year. "I respect my mother and I understand my mother… that she is not motherly.”

Her career, Malkah said, is "where all [her] love has gone."


Last weekend, it would seem, Goward was desperate for a right of reply.

“I was very concerned about her going into modelling so young," Goward tells Devine. "I thought she should wait, but it wasn’t to be. For many years it gave her access to a wonderful world, but today there are quite different rules around underage children modelling."

“Mums do the best that they can do and I just loved her to bits,” Goward assures Devine. She talks about doing tuckshop duty, and feeding her before starting work at 6am.

It feels very much like Goward is on trial - and she is her sole defence.

Ita Buttrose is even asked to describe Goward as a mother. Apparently, she was "juggling madly".

Image via ABC.

In many ways, the interview leaves us with far more questions than answers. What could lead to a relationship so fractured they no longer speak?

With minimal tone, one can still hear the implicit tutting. Goward put her career first. Despite being one of the most "accomplished women in the country," she failed at the role that matters most; a point Devine drove home only weeks ago.

Her role as a mother.

That's why she has to mention her time in the tuckshop 40 years ago, and taking Malkah to parliament house. "I wasn't a bad mother," she assures us.

After reading Devine's column, and in fact, every column about Malkah's estrangement from her mother, one would be forgiven for thinking she was born out of immaculate conception.

Estrangement from your mother is a considered the ultimate tragedy.

But estrangement from your father? Apparently it's unremarkable.


Malkah's father, university lecturer Alastair Fischer, evades any such media scrutiny. The only trace of him seems to be in passing, when Malkah's speaks about being homeless for two years, and how she refused to ask either of her parents for help.

"I think they kind of felt like, 'Well, it's about time – you were a princess in an ivory tower for so many years'. I think they were quite happy," she told The Australian Women's Weekly

Malkah said she didn't want to give them, "the satisfaction of lording it over me."

It's been reported that Malkah has a good relationship with her step father, journalist David Barnett, but the subject of her biological father is rarely broached.

For some, estrangement is a devastating loss. For others, it's a relief. But it does feel as though we place far more weight on an absent mother than we do an absent father, even when the child in question is an adult.

Pru Goward is on trial. Her public profile explains some of it, of course. But so too does her gender.

Why do I feel like Alastair Fischer will never be subject to the same level of scrutiny?

Is cutting a family member out of your life sometimes the best solution?

You can listen to the full episode of Mamamia Out Loud, here.