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Wednesday, 27 November 1974
Page: 2876


Senator DURACK (Western Australia) - Despite my desire to co-operate in seeing that this Bill goes through as quickly as possible, I wish to say a few words on this matter. I notice that we are making good progress. We have some time up our sleeve, which I think gives me some licence to answer the argument of the Attorney-General (Senator Murphy) on this matter because, really, I just cannot let this go by without comment. For a start, the AttorneyGeneral's argument is related to a situation which has no application whatever to this particular amendment. Sub-clause 4 of clause 6 1 of the Bill provides that an order with respect to the maintenance of a party to a marriage ceases to have effect upon the re-marriage of the party. The Bill deals with an existing order. It is not concerned with the situation in which somebody who does not have an order reads in the newspaper, years after the marriage has been washed up, that her former husband has won the lottery. That is what the Attorney-General has put to the Committee and it has nothing whatever to do with this amendment.


Senator Murphy - Do not existing provisions say that an order, such as I am proposing, with respect to the maintenance of a party shall cease to have effect upon the remarriage of the party?


Senator DURACK -That is not what the Attorney-General's example dealt with. I want to put clearly before the Committee the circumstances in which this may well apply. The sort of situation which the Standing Committee on Constitutional and Legal Affairs had in mind was one where a man of some means- I am not talking about a man who won the lottery or about a millionaire; I am talking about a man of some means- obtained a divorce after one year's separation from a wife who may have been entirely unwilling to agree to the divorce but who, because of this law, has been divorced and she was clearly entitled to maintenance, and substantial maintenance, for herself and the children of the marriage and obtained such an order. Suppose this woman, who has been abandoned by this well off husband, has been divorced and obtained maintenance, and then in her loneliness decided to remarry and married a man who is on the minimum wage. This is not an unrealistic situation because I have had professional experience of it.

Under the clause of the Bill as printed, that woman will cease to be entitled to any maintenance and will have no rights in respect of her former husband whatsoever. That is what this clause is dealing with. It is a situation which in all justice demands that she should still have some rights to maintenance from her former husband. It may well be that in most cases this provision will not be required but what the Committee is objecting to are the absolute provisions of the sub-clause as printed which would exclude a woman in those circumstances. Consider also the situation where a woman has remarried and the second marriage ends because ofthe death of the second husband. She may well be left in destitute circumstances whereas her first husband is a man of means and can contribute to her maintenance. These are the sorts of situations which the amendment of the Committee, as moved, deals with and not the fanciful, unrealistic and quite fallacious circumstances which have been mentioned by the Attorney-General.







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