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Thursday, 21 November 1974
Page: 2665

Senator MURPHY (New South WalesAttorneyGeneral) - I do not agree with the proposed amendment. This method may be used in South Australia but my understanding is that it is not being used very much elsewhere and certainly it has not been availed of in New South Wales. The reason for our disagreement- again this is not a world shattering point; there are a lot of these minor matters- is that it is hoped that the counselling procedures will be effective. There will be a body of persons around the court who will be able to give advice and counsel the parties. They will be regarded as someone to whom people can turn for assistance and to whom they can pour out all their troubles. If the matter cannot be resolved and if there is to be a contest and issues of fact have to be decided, they will be decided by someone who is quite dispassionate and who has nothing to do with the parties. I agree that there is room for a division of view on this but that is why I do not accept the suggestion.

We think that although the judge will be steeped in the family atmosphere he is really there as a judge to decide the things that cannot be resolved. It will be up to the other people to do the counselling. The judge ought not to be getting caught up in counselling the very people whom he may have to assess, evaluate and sit in judgment upon. These 2 functions ought to be separated and that is why we reject the amendment. As I say, there is no great dispute over this. It is not something on which we should be at great holts. I do not share the Standing Committee's view. I vote against the proposal.

Amendment agreed to.

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