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Thursday, 21 November 1974
Page: 2668

Senator GREENWOOD (Victoria) - I raise a couple of matters. I notice- I think I am correct in saying this-that the Senate Standing Committee on Constitutional and Legal Affairs did not make any recommendation with regard to this question. That in itself, I think, is a countervailing consideration of some weight to the arguments which have prevailed with the

Attorney-General. Amongst the people whom the members of the Committee saw was someone from the court in South Australia. I would have thought that some view might have been expressed if the members of the Committee had felt that a change was desirable here. But they have not recommended any change and they knew that the provision relating to direction was contained in this clause.

I think that we are looking at this question wrongly if we are regarding it as being at the core of marriage counselling. It is not at the core. Therefore, to respond to Senator James McClelland 's broad arguments that marriage counselling does not get anywhere if there is an element of compulsion, with that broad proposition I concur, but that is not to find the complete and simple answer to this question that we are now considering, because we are dealing with a particular type of situation. We are dealing with the situation where a party has gone to the court and secured an injunction. In those circumstances you have developed a feeling which can be resolved only by the court coming in with a strong hand, and that strong hand is to say: Well, there is only one alternative: You have to separate, and the court will now order'. Surely it is proper at that time for the court to say: 'Well, bitterness now exists between the parties and I feel that you have got to do something to look after, for example, the children'. It may be that nothing can be said or done which will help the parties. But if something can be done to look after the interests of the children I think it should be done. The court may say: 'I direct you to go before a marriage counsellor. If you do not it will be a contempt of court.' That is a different type of situation. It is exceptional. To follow up Senator Laucke 's point, if the discretion is in the court to make that order then I do not think any harm will be done and, indeed, benefit might derive.

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