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Wednesday, 19 October 1983
Page: 1954

Mr HODGMAN(5.56) —I support the amendment and indicate that I will support all the circulated amendments to be moved by the honourable member for Mitchell (Mr Cadman). I support this amendment because I support the basic thrust of the amendments proposed by the honourable member for Mitchell. This is the first in a series of amendments which closely follow the amendments moved in the Senate by Senator Brian Harradine and which I support. Indeed, I would go even further in my support. If there were a move to strengthen even further some of the amendments proposed by the honourable member for Mitchell-I refer specifically to the proposed amendments to introduce a new section 15A to the Act, that I would support--

The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Mr Drummond) —Order! The honourable member should speak to clause 1. He will have an opportunity to speak on the other clauses at a later time.

Mr HODGMAN —If I could finish the sentence and then abandon that point, I would go even further. I say that because, unlike the Deputy Prime Minister (Mr Lionel Bowen) and my colleague the honourable member for Dundas (Mr Ruddock), I have not practised at all in the field of what was originally called matrimonial causes, or divorce law, and very little in the maintenance area. So the comments I am about to make in relation to the title of the Bill are largely a reflection of the remarks which have been made to me in my parliamentary office over a period of years in relation to the way the Family Law Act is seen by the people of Australia, upon whom it is applied.

It is a matter of some significance that, had the result of the seat of Denison been different in 1974, this legislation may not have passed. It passed in this House by one vote and the then member for Denison supported the legislation. Had I been the member for Denison at that stage I would have voted against it. Having said that, I want to emphasise that the reason why I support the first amendment is on the basis of legal accuracy. To me, it describes more accurately what this law is and what it is doing to Australia. I commend the honourable member for Dundas who had worked assiduously, along with others, to make this a Family Law Act. I am disappointed, as is the honourable member for Dundas, that when we have an opportunity in this Parliament tonight to debate this matter and to vote upon it, on one side of the House-our side-there will be a conscience vote; on the other side--

Mr Lionel Bowen —That is wrong.

Mr HODGMAN —Is that wrong? If that is wrong, I am delighted.

Mr Lionel Bowen —I have already explained it.

Mr HODGMAN —I accept with great pleasure the Deputy Prime Minister's remarks. I thought I heard that statement made earlier in the debate, and if that is not correct I am delighted.

Mr Maher —It is the opposite.

Mr HODGMAN —I am delighted with the assurance given by the Deputy Prime Minister and by the honourable member for Lowe (Mr Maher). In conclusion, I make one fundamental point about this legislation. I have received numerous complaints that it is not working in the way it was originally intended and it is certainly not working as a family law. I have had the opportunity to read a book written by Mr Patrick Tennyson on the workings of the Family Law Act in Australia since it was introduced. Until it becomes a family law Act and until there is a return to the basic values which applied in this country before 1975, I believe the title proposed by the honourable member for Mitchell is more accurate and I will therefore support it.