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Tuesday, 17 September 1974
Page: 1123

Senator DURACK (Western Australia) - I should like to speak briefly on this motion and to make a suggestion which probably would have to be considered by the Standing Committee on Constitutional and Legal Affairs, of which I am a member. In a way it may be unnecessary to raise it in this place. However, I wish to take up the point which Senator Murphy made. He said that the Senate may be invited to proceed to debate the second reading of the Bill before 17 October when presumably this Committee will present its report on the clauses of the Family Law Bill. I think that before the Senate embarks upon a second reading debate on this Bill it would be most important for members of the Senate to have the advantage of being able to read, if they wish, the major submissions that have been put to this Committee over the last 3 years or so. I am not certain of the time, but it was certainly over 2 years ago that the Committee started to take evidence in public. Senator Murphy and Senator Withers were both members of the Committee at the time that very valuable submissions were presented by Mr Ray Watson, Q.C., from the New South Wales Bar, and also by Mr Justice Selby. Many most important submissions were put to the Committee. As I understand the Standing Orders of the Senate, these submissions are really still under wraps, so to speak. Although they are contained in the transcript of the Committee proceedings, I do not know to what extent they are available to the public.

There is just one other aspect, and that is that a number of submissions have not been the subject of a public hearing and the Committee may well have to go through them and select a number of them for presentation. Essentially, the point I am making is that perhaps it would be better to consider the matter instead of rushing something through at the moment. I think the major submissions selected by the Committee should be made available publicly to the Senate so that honourable senators may have an opportunity to read them before the second reading debate takes place.

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