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Tuesday, 17 November 1959

Sir Garfield Barwick - Mr. Chairman, I shall move that certain proposed clauses, a list of which I have circulated, be inserted in the bill. I suggest that the committee allow the proposed clauses to be considered in their numerical order with the clauses as printed in the bill, instead of them being inserted after the clauses and schedules as printed have been considered, as the Standing Orders provide. I ask for the committee's leave to adopt that course.

Dr Evatt - I take it that this proposal involves no change other than the consideration in numerical order of amendments to insert new clauses which were circulated a considerable time ago. I take it that the idea is to have the proposed clauses considered in numerical order so as to facilitate discussion.

Sir Garfield Barwick - That is so.

Mr Ward - What is the reason for the changed procedure?

Sir Garfield Barwick - The object is to insert the proposed clauses in their numerical order as we go along instead of waiting until we get to the end of the bill.

Mr Luchetti - I do not want those at the table who are united in various obnoxious aspects of this bill to presume to speak for the whole of the Parliament. I want absolute clarity on each clause that is to be presented to the committee. Therefore, I want the Attorney-General (Sir Garfield Barwick) to make it understood that each clause will be submitted without reference to any succeeding clause, and that each clause will be debated on its merits, without relation to any subsequent clause.

Sir Garfield Barwick - I do not think I can say to the honorable member that I shall adhere to that proposition. When a clause is qualified by later clauses I will ask the committee to allow the later clauses to be debated along with the original clause, but of course without taking a vote on the succeeding clause at that time. Clause 27 (m) is a case in point because it is qualified by a later clause.

Dr Evatt - It is qualified by several other clauses.

Sir Garfield Barwick - Yes, by more than one. I will ask the committee, when we reach clause 27 (m), to allow discussion also on the clauses which qualify it so that we shall get a complete picture.

Mr Haylen - In view of the complex nature of the amendments proposed, which number 56 to 58, it might have been better had the whole bill been reprinted. We are going to have confusion in any case. We will have a great deal of complexity and misunderstanding no matter what course is adopted. I suggest that, even at this late stage, the debate could be deferred to allow the amendments to be incorporated in the bill. I do not think we have ever had a bill with so many proposed amendments.

Mr Stewart - I agree with the honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Haylen). I have taken the trouble to mark in the original bill the point at which amendments have been proposed. It is true that some of them are only to delete a word, but in some instances the whole clause is deleted and a new clause added. I find it virtually impossible to follow this bill and the amendments at the present time. Amendments are proposed on almost every page of the bill. On page 12, for instance, two amendments are proposed; on page 14 there are two; on page 15 a couple of amendments are proposed; and on page 17 there are no less than three. On one page whole clauses have been deleted and new clauses and paragraphs added. Whilst the AttorneyGeneral (Sir Garfield Barwick) might have at his finger tips the general form that this bill will take, a lot of us who have had no legal training are looking at this problem with concern, not from any sectional point of view, but because we feel deeply that this is a matter which should be thoroughly examined. Most of us agree that divorce laws should be uniform throughout Australia. But that is no reason why we should not be entitled to have the whole bill before us in the form in which the Attorney-General wants it to be passed through this Parliament.

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