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Wednesday, 27 November 1974
Page: 2859

Senator SCOTT (New South Wales) - I must support Senator Baume 's amendment. We have discussed this important Bill, particularly this most important clause 26, at some length and in some depth, and so we should. Out of all that discussion it seems to me that in Senator Baume 's amendment we have a real measure of compromise. It incorporates quite a lot of the attitude of the Attorney-General (Senator Murphy) but at the same time I believe it accepts considerable areas of the amendments moved by Senators Laucke, Sir Kenneth Anderson, Durack and Chaney. I believe that the period of 2 years is reasonable insofar as it rules out the possibility inherent in such a short initial period of 12 months of marriage becoming nothing more than a period of experiment. To enable a couple who may well have been married only a few days to choose to part and some 12 months later be divorced permits, I believe, in this area of contract which is basic to our society, a lack of responsibility which ill befits legislation from this Parliament. I think 2 years is sufficient time. After all, it represents a very considerable reduction from 5 years. It permits sufficient time for there to be retained within the marriage contract, within marriage itself and the concept of the family, a real measure of responsibility. I believe that is what marriage is all about.

We already have ruled out, perhaps unfortunately, the question of another ground to cater for the areas of cruelty in which there should be a way for dissolution to become possible in a much shorter period. We ruled this out under the no fault concept. 1 believe it is somewhat naive to assume that there is no fault in anything. Fault must exist, whether it be 90 parts to 10, 60 parts to 40 or 50 parts each way. There must be fault. We are naive because ultimately in this legislation that sort of fault will be revealed.

However, be that as it may, Senator Baume 's amendment which is before us and which I support suggests in the first place that 2 years provides a greater and proper area of responsibility.

Most importantly, the second part of his amendment is such that divorce or dissolution within a 12 months period of separation or after such a period of separation is also possible on the very reasonable and proper ground that it should be sought. Evidence suggests that it will be sought in the great majority of cases by both parties. After listening to the depth and breadth of this discussion I find I must firmly support Senator Baume 's amendment because I think it is a realistic and responsible compromise in a most important piece of legislation.

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