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Monday, 10 September 2018
Page: 8456

Mr CRAIG KELLY (Hughes) (19:27): I'm pleased to rise this evening to speak on the Family Law Amendment (Family Violence and Cross-examination of Parties) Bill 2018. I'm sure all of us will have heard horror stories from our constituents who have been through the mill of the family law courts. The best advice I think I could ever give any of my constituents who come to me about an issue to do with family law courts is to stay out of court if you possibly can. I've heard horrendous stories of people having legal bills of $100,000, $200,000, $300,000, $400,000, $500,000 and even $800,000 as a result of going through the family law courts. One thing that we must look at when trying to see how we can improve access to and issues of family law are the legal costs. There is of course the emotional hardship that people go through but, for many people, the financial hardship of being dragged through the family law courts is more than they can bear.

There is quite a bit of work that we need to do, and I'm very glad that the Attorney-General is making some very important steps to improve the family law courts, to improve access to justice, to try to take away some of those legal costs and to try to take away some of the strict and harsh rules of the family law courts. Of course, one of those laws goes to cross-examination and where each party is cross-examining each other. It is important that someone who is accused of an offence has the right to full and fair legal defence, and that includes being able to cross-examine. But there is a line where family violence has been involved and where the person who is the perpetrator of that family violence gets to cross-examine their witness often for hours and hours on end.

Debate interrupted.