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Wednesday, 18 November 1959

Sir WILFRID KENT HUGHES (Chisholm) . - I wish to talk about paragraph (k), which was referred to in the letter from the Anglican bishops. Although I do not propose to vote against it, I am not particularly happy with it. I really rose to ask the Attorney-General a question. He has very kindly and straightforwardly had graphs prepared showing the number of divorces for each 100,000 of population in the various States from 1932 to 1958.

The question of whether this bill will make divorce easier or not has been thoroughly debated, but the fact is that New South Wales, during the last four years, has held the record of all the States for the highest number of divorces per 100,000 people. Western Australia is the only State which has gone higher since 1947. We can talk about that when we come to paragraph (m).

Paragraph (k) has been taken from the New South Wales act, but extends the period from 21 days to a year within which conjugal rights shall be restored. I want to ask the Attorney-General: How long has this been a ground for divorce in New South Wales? What percentage of New South Wales divorces have been obtained on this ground? It is merely as a matter of interest that I want to know whether this paragraph has any real bearing on the fact that New South Wales has the highest divorce rate in Australia.

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