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Wednesday, 18 November 1959

The CHAIRMAN - Order! I have been informed that it is impracticable to include the graph in " Hansard ".

Sir GARFIELD BARWICK - Well, if the printer can be persuaded to include it, he is free to do so.

I have paused for this moment to do no more, so far as the churchmen are concerned, than criticize their precise statement. I have made it clear to honorable members that the criticism is that the statement is inaccurate. The quotations are about a different kind of bill altogether, which did not have these safeguards. Those from whom the bishops quoted had no material before them at all as to what the Western Australian experience was.

I know we can have two views about this thing. I am quite clear about that. Some people may say: " I am going to save the personal right of the innocent person never to be divorced against his or her will. Tt does not matter how irrational her desire or his desire not to be divorced may be. I do not care how just you can be. I do not care how much you can secure by way of financial rights. I do not care about the absence of any conduct which could be thought to be against the public interest. I just will not go against the particular will of that person". Well, I put the contrary view. I say there is so much interest in the community in getting rid of illicit unions and allowing a party to be free - all these safeguards being satisfied - that the public interest should overbear the private sentiment of the person for whom you have provided financial justice, provided you have seen that there has been no abuse of the ground. Which is better for the community? Let us consider which situation upholds the dignity of marriage the better. There is the woman or a map on one side just hanging on to the last shreds, and the status of the other party living illicitly and perhaps having children to whom, sooner or later, the sad news must be broken and, as I quoted from the gentlemen of the Morton Commission last night living under fear and with a sense of wrong? Is that preferable to a divorce and a regularization of that other family life? The only penalty is that the party who does not want a divorce may be hurt in sentiment. Which does uphold marriage the better? Which is the better for the soundness of marriage? Does the prevalence of illicit unions - and they are prevalent - do honour to the institution of marriage? Or would it not be better to sever the unreal marriage that is finished and allow a new marriage? Mark you. as I understand womankind, I know that a woman will live with a man of whom she is fond without the marriage bond if he is not free to marry her, but if he is free to marry her she will say: " You marry me if I am to live with you ".

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