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Thursday, 27 February 1975
Page: 814

To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives assembled: The humble petition of the undersigned citizens of the Commonwealth of Australia respectfully showeth: - 1. That the 'Family Law Bill 1974' fails to give the family the protection presumed to be guaranteed it under Section 43, for rather than preserving the lifelong union of married couples to the exclusion of all others, the Bill deals mainly with the legalising of its destruction through easy and unjust divorce, together with the legalising of the evasion of responsibility on the part of parents. (Secs. 43, 48, 49,50)

2.   That the Bill counts the period of 'irretrievable breakdown' as from the first declaraton of 'separation', even in cases where a period of cohabitation has interrupted the legal 'separation', evidencing a change of heart and an attempt at reconciliation by both partners. (Sec. 48, 49, 50)

3.   That in the dissolution process, the Bill refuses to recognise any guilt, and since the Bill gives to parents 'joint custody' of children, the question of actual care and control of children seems to be vaguely left to welfare officers. (Secs. 61-65)

4.   That children of 14 years and over are allowed to choose their guardians, who need not be either parent, in effect contravening the present law that prevents children under 16 years freeing themselves from parental control; and furthermore the Bill specifics that no order regarding such 1 4 year old children may be made that is contrary to the wishes of the child. (Sec. 64)

5.   That after the dissolution of the marriage, the wife may be forced to work to support herself and her children, and in some cases her ex-husband, as well as being liable for legal costs. (Secs. 72-76)

6.   That under this Bill the loose term 'irretrievable breakdown' could be used as an excuse for a divorce of convenience or for financial gain in various ways, including increased pensions, thus increasing the burden on taxpayers.

Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled will do everything possible to promote and preserve the permanency of the married state, and not admit into the law of this land any provision for such easy divorce that threatens the stability of family life-for although the present divorce system has weaknesses these will not be righted by an even weaker and more unjust 'Family Law Bill '.

And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Mr Hodges.

Petition received.

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