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Wednesday, 18 November 1959


Mr ANDERSON (Hume) .I should like to answer the honorable members for Corangamite (Mr. Mackinnon), East Sydney (Mr. Ward) and Fremantle (Mr. Beazley). I ask: Who is the guilty party? I think that the AttorneyGeneral (Sir Garfield Barwick) asked that question a day or so ago. How can you prove which is the guilty party? If two people are married but are completely incompatible, surely there is no guilty party. One of them must leave the home. The arguments that I have heard from the last three speakers are grossly offensive to my sense of justice. If we are to make a decision on this all-important point, it is time that we looked at this matter clearly.

Which is the guilty party of a married couple who are totally incompatible? Consider the case of the frigid woman. The honorable member for Fremantle supported his argument by citing the most extraordinary cases. Apparently he would like divorce laws to fit all the improbable cases that can be imagined. We know that some married couples are incompatible and that neither party is at fault. What is to happen in such a case? The parties cannot live together. One of them must leave, and it is usually the husband who does so. Incompatibility is no crime. Who is the guilty party? Honorable members should ask themselves that question. One of the parties to the marriage must leave in order to survive; otherwise they could both become candidates for the mental asylum. This clause applies to innocent people who are forced to separate.

The honorable member for Corangamite (Mr. Mackinnon) has said that this provision will damage the greatest institution in the world - marriage. What about people who cannot live together? Is this institution to be regarded highly by them? Of course not! What nonsense! Consider the position in relation to crime. Do not we say that it is better that a thousand criminals should go free than that one innocent man be punished? For criminals we have a code of law. Yet it has been suggested that two incompatible people should be forced to continue to live together. Where is the justice in that? What nonsense has been talked! The Attorney-General has provided safeguards in connexion with this provision.

The honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) said, in the most careless manner, that if a couple had no children he would make it easier for them to obtain a divorce, but that if they had children they should not get a divorce. Is it in the interests of children that they should be brought up in an atmosphere of hostility?


Mr Ward - What is your problem?


Mr ANDERSON - My concern is that justice should be done to innocent people. In this type of case, a life sentence as it were should not be imposed. People should have a chance to build up a new life - a new, happy marriage. There is no possibility under this provision for divorce by consent or for any divorce which would be harmful to the community interest. I very strongly support the clause. There is one other thing that I would like to say to honorable members: Before they vote they should think carefully whether they could decide in cases such as those that we are examining now, who is the guilty party.







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