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Wednesday, 22 March 1961

Sir GARFIELD BARWICK (Parramatta) (Attorney-General) . - The act provides, in clause 6 (a) that it will not displace the State laws as to the registration of marriages. It is not proposed to lift the registration of marriages up into the federal sphere. This has been made possible by negotiations by myself with the State Attorneys-General and they are prepared to continue the State registers. It would be rather a large task at this stage to lift the whole of the registration of marriages up into the federal sphere.

Mr Duthie - There would be no separate registrar?


Registrar of Marriages is usually in a State the Registrar of Births and Deaths as well. If you took part of his functions away and set up a federal register you would duplicate the personnel to a substantial degree.

The registrar of the marriage is quite separate from the celebrant. The celebrant is the authorized celebrant under the federal bill. He may be a minister of religion or a State servant in the office of a registrar, for State laws at present allow the registrar to perform the ceremony. To give him the authority, he will get a federal authorization from the Attorney-General to be an authorized celebrant. It may be that every registrar will not become authorized to celebrate marriages but some registrars in outlying places under the State arrangements will become authorized celebrants.

Arrangements are fairly complete, in anticipation of the passing of this bill. They have involved a good deal of negotiation and provide that there will be an adequate number of celebrants in all the places where they are likely to be needed, and that the registration system of the States will carry on as now; the States allowing their officers to bind up or register the federal certificate of marriage. The certificate of marriage will be a federal document - an instrument under the federal act.

Clauses agreed to.

Mr Whitlam - Mr. Chairman, might I ask the indulgence of the committee to reconsider clause 11, which relates to marriageable age? You will remember, Sir, that it was dealt with in the group, clause 10 to clause 21 inclusive.

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