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Wednesday, 22 March 1961

Sir GARFIELD BARWICK (Parramatta) (Attorney-General) . - The officers to whom the honorable member refers are Commonwealth officers at present functioning as such. Clause 61 (5.) provides -

The persons holding office immediately before the commencement of this Act as Registrar of Overseas Marriages and Deputy Registrar of Overseas Marriages under tho Marriage (Overseas) Act 1955-1958 shall be deemed to have been appointed Registrar of Overseas Marriages and Deputy Registrar of Overseas Marriages, respectively, under this section.

There is already a federal register. We do not seek to impose any duty on the States with regard to this registration.

Mr Haylen - I think I understand.

Sir GARFIELD BARWICK - Then the honorable member made a brief reference to another subject. Let me anticipate any question about it by giving the answer now. It is true that people who have been married according to the laws of foreign countries, and who are in doubt about the validity of their marriages and as to whether Australia will recognize them, can be left in a difficult situation. This problem has been covered in the bill in this way: If a person really doubts the legal validity of his or her marriage, that person may, under the provisions of this legislation, obtain some form of legal opinion that there is a doubt as to the validity of the marriage, and then go through a form of marriage here and obtain a marriage certificate here. That certificate will be registered, but it will record on its face the fact of the former ceremony, so that if in another day the legal point is raised as to whether the earlier marriage really took place - it may be in connexion with devolution of property or some other rights - all the surrounding facts will be recorded on the certificate and set out, as it were, for posterity.

This is part of a general provision in the bill which has been introduced by amendment, which enables persons in doubt as to their former marriage to go through a ceremony here. It also enables persons who want to be married according to some faith which we would not recognize as necessarily calling for a monogamous marriage, but who want to be able to avail themselves of the benefits attaching to that form of marriage if they go to some other country where such a form of marriage will have full validity, to go through such a form of marriage, and also to receive a certificate of marriage after going through the form of marriage recognized in this country.

The same procedure allows people who like to renew their vows, sometimes years after their marriage, to go through a second ceremony. That is provided for in this bill, stipulating always that the person who wants to go through the second ceremony, first acknowledges that the first ceremony was valid. That procedure will also be available when people of different faiths desire to marry and would like two ceremonies. They can choose whichever they like as the first, and that will be the marriage. The second ceremony will not give rise to a certificate of marriage although, for their comfort, they will be able to take from the second celebrant a certificate that he has performed that second ceremony. The honorable member anticipated a little. His question is covered in that group of provisions.

Mr Reynolds - I should like to know whether we have dealt with clause 40 or whether it is included in the group now under discussion.

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