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Monday, 11 May 2015
Page: 2724


Senator JACINTA COLLINS (Victoria) (13:25): by leave—I move opposition amendments (9) to (11) and (13) together:

(9) Schedule 1, item 125, page 52 (line 13), after "(see section 44AAA)", insert "or to the Family Court (see section 44AAB)".

(10) Schedule 1, item 129, page 53 (after line 7), at the end of subsection 44AAA(1), add:

Note: A party to the proceeding may also apply to the Family Court of Australia, see section 44AAB.

(11) Schedule 1, item 129, page 53 (after line 21), after section 44AAA, insert:

44AAB Appeals to Family Court from decisions of the Tribunal in relation to child support first reviews

   (1) If the Tribunal as constituted for the purposes of a proceeding that is a child support first review does not consist of or include a presidential member, a party to the proceeding may appeal to the Family Court of Australia, on a question of law, from any decision of the Tribunal in that proceeding.

Note: A party to the proceeding may also apply to the Federal Circuit Court of Australia, see section 44AAA.

   (2) The following provisions of this Part apply in relation to any such appeal as if the appeal were an appeal under subsection 44(1) and a reference in those provisions to the Federal Court of Australia were a reference to the Family Court of Australia:

      (a) subsections 44(2A) to (10) (other than paragraphs 44(3)(a) to (c));

      (b) section 44A (other than subsection (2A));

      (c) paragraphs 46(1)(a) and (b).

   (3) Paragraph 44(2A)(b) applies in relation to any such appeal as if the reference in that paragraph to rules of court made under the Federal Court of Australia Act 1976 were a reference to rules of court made under the Family Law Act 1975.

   (4) Subsection (1) does not affect the operation of subsection 44(1) in relation to a proceeding that is a child support first review.

(13) Schedule 4, item 68, page 142 (line 6), omit "paragraph 44AAA(2)(b)", substitute "paragraphs 44AAA(2)(b) and 44AAB(2)(b)".

These amendments reflect the recommendation contained in the Labor senators' additional comments. The amendments would retain current arrangements for the jurisdiction of the Family Court in referrals of law relating to child support matters and appeals from jurisdiction review applications of the AAT in decisions relating to child support matters. We understand the government's attraction to the simplicity of having just one line of appeal out of the AAT. We see the appeal of simplicity and uniformity, but we do not want litigants or practitioners to be confused by appeal arrangements.

However, we note that the Family Court has raised serious objections to this proposal, which have not been adequately answered by the government—unless, Senator Brandis, they are in the revised explanatory memorandum, which I have not had a chance to address. The Family Court rightly notes that it has great expertise in child support matters and is therefore the natural jurisdiction. We are not convinced that this consideration is outweighed by the appeal of simplicity and streamlining. We would hope that the government would be able to come to the review of the amalgamation, which we propose for two years hence, and make a case for this change, if experience shows that it is required at that stage.