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Tuesday, 23 November 2010
Page: 3515

Mr McCLELLAND (Attorney-General) (8:41 PM) —in reply—I would like to thank honourable members for their contributions to the debate and express my appreciation to the opposition for the expeditious consideration of the bill. The Family Law Amendment (Validation of Certain Parenting Orders and Other Measures) Bill 2010 is an important bill that provides certainty to parents with parenting orders affected by the High Court’s decision in the case known as MRR v GR, which was decided earlier this year. The bill will ensure that parenting arrangements under these orders will continue to have effect, which will support parents continuing to be involved in their children’s lives.

Things done or not done that relied on existing orders will be taken to be valid on the commencement of the bill, and parents with these orders will be able to rely on them as if they had been validly made. Appropriate safeguards are provided by the bill. These include the preservation of appeal rights and ensuring parents can, in appropriate cases, vary parenting arrangements under orders—including any that were made in contested proceedings—that were not reasonably practicable.

The bill will also streamline procedures for the courts to make equal shared parental responsibility orders in the future when all parties to the proceedings consent to them. Where parties agree that parents will have equal shared parental responsibility the courts may—but will not be required to—give consideration to alternative equal or substantial and significant time arrangements. This measure will reduce costs and complexity, and it demonstrates the government’s commitment to supporting parents reaching agreement about parenting arrangements for their children.

The bill is based on previous validation legislation passed by the parliament and subsequently upheld by the High Court of Australia. In summary, the bill will provide much needed certainty for families with shared parenting orders affected by the High Court’s decision. I commend the bill to the House.

Question agreed to.

Bill read a second time.