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Wednesday, 18 November 1959


Mr HAYLEN (Parkes) .- I am a little concerned about the suggestion conveyed in the amendment, not because I doubt the motives behind it or behind the bill in general but because the setting up of marriage guidance bureaux has possibilities for good as well as for evil. Such an organization could degenerate into a lonely hearts club. Because of the imprecise language of the proposal, we do not show exactly what will happen. The tension behind blasted marriages and happiness destroyed cannot be mended simply by a visit from a clergyman, lt is necessary to get down to the basic causes of broken marriages - such things as inadequate housing and unemployment. If the Minister does nothing to create an organization of that sort he will be ignoring an enormous problem in human relationships. I do not like the imprecise language of the proposals. The conclusion that can be drawn is that married couples will be subject just to some sort of visitation. Nothing fills some people with horror, if they have matrimonial disputes, more than the thought that the well-meaning private eye will descend on them, whether it be a representative of the Church or just the lady around the corner. We should protect people from being managed in their rather distressing matrimonial circumstances.

This is an odd thing to find in a piece of federal legislation. It looks as though it is a sort of gimmick to apologize for forcing into one pattern the matrimonial legislation of the various States. I hope, as we all do, that it will work but, at the present time it is very nebulous. The groundwork of it is insubstantial. The idea is a good one and the feeling is to do good, but whether the organizations which will be created will be able to do that is problematical.

The honorable member for Port Adelaide (Mr. Thompson) touched the position in one of its most difficult aspects when he talked of the situation in the country where everybody's business is known to others. If the little marriage guidance counsellor comes tootling along on his bike people will know that some one is suffering a matrimonial crisis, and the position will be very difficult indeed.

I believe that the Brotherhood of St. Laurence and the family organizations of the Catholic Church and other Churches have been doing good liaison work for a long time, but only up to a certain point. I have worked as a journalist in the courts of Australia, particularly in Sydney and I have seen the effects of broken marriages in the children's court and the divorce court. It is not only a matter of getting a kindly disposed person to apply some sort of conversational salve to the situation. The rift goes so dreadfully deep on occasions that it is almost irreparable. If we have these do-gooders subsidized by the Government floating at large, in my opinion more harm than good may be done.







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