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Tuesday, 4 December 1973
Page: 2372

Senator McMANUS (VICTORIA) -My question, which is directed to the Attorney-General, concerns a rather extraordinary statement which appeared in the Melbourne Press during the weekend. A young lady stated that she was the secretary of an Australian Labor Party member of the House of Representatives and that she was one of two previously unqualified persons who had been appointed by the Attorney-General to conduct marriages in future. The young lady further said that she understood that she had been appointed to conduct marriages as a representative of the Labor Party. Will the Attorney-General inform us whether there have been appointments of this nature? If so, on what basis are they made? Does he intend to appoint persons to conduct marriages as representatives of the Liberal Party of Australia, the Australian Country Party and the Australian Demoratic Labor Party?

Senator Douglas McClelland (NEW SOUTH WALES) - What about the Independents?

Senator McMANUS -And the Independents?

Senator MURPHY -I regret that I have not seen the report, so I am not in a position to deal with it adequately. If the young lady was correctly reported she needs, I would think, to be corrected on the nature of the office. Certainly no persons are appointed to conduct marriages for members of the Australian Labor Party, or for members of the Liberal Party. It may be necessary to appoint someone to conduct a marriage between the Country Party and the Democratic Labor Party. Apparently the matchmaker has not been as successful as was thought at first. The position under the Marriage Act is that a large number of ministers of the various religions are appointed to conduct marriages- something of the order of 10,000 or more of these people have been appointed-and in addition State officers, who broadly comprise the Registrars-General and their officers in the States, are appointed to conduct marriages. Apart from those people, very few people have been appointed by the Attorney-General, pursuant to the Act, to conduct marriages.

Senator Webster - Who are they?

Senator MURPHY -There are only about half a dozen of these people. It is proposed that more will be appointed. But not a great number is required, and the suitability of those to be appointed is being considered. If there is some error in respect of understanding the office in the case to which the honourable senator has referred, the matter certainly will be attended to. But so far the system is working very satisfactorily.

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