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Wednesday, 19 October 1983
Page: 1954


Mr LIONEL BOWEN (Minister for Trade)(5.54) —The Government does not accept the proposed amendment. The family law connotation was referred to by members on both sides of the House. It is a difficult piece of legislation. It relates to the family. I think there is a well-meaning intention that by altering the title of the Bill to 'Marriage Dissolution' we may preserve a marriage. I very much doubt it. Perhaps it is a very late reaction to what former Senator Murphy allegedly did. There was a view at the time that he had created an atmosphere in which divorce was easier to obtain and that he was to blame. I do not think that that is true. In fact, the statistics clearly show that the number of divorces declined after the initial impact of the legislation .

The problems society faces are the difficulties that people create for each other. They separate and form other associations, and there is no law against that. I remember appearing for a woman who was found guilty of bigamy on three occasions and was sentenced to 18 months imprisonment. In fact, she could have lived in the most adulterous of circumstances and not suffered any penalty. We must look at what the law does, and I do not think that there is much to this amendment. Family law is an effort to sort out the rights of the family. It certainly follows a dissolution, but I do not think that the name of the Bill in any way detracts from its intention. There may be a few rare cases in which the procedures adopted here might well have led to a reconciliation and there has not been a dissolution. To that extent I do not think that the amendment deserves support.