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Tuesday, 26 November 1974
Page: 2751

Senator MISSEN (Victoria) -I understand the Attorney-General (Senator Murphy) proposes to move an amendment in the following terms:

Insert the following new clause:- 17b. (1) A court, to be known as the Family Court of Australia, is created by this Act.

(2)   The Court is a superior court of record.

(   3 ) The Court consists of a Chief Judge, the Senior Judges and the other Judges from time to time holding office in accordance with this Act.

An amendment is proposed to proposed new sub-clause 1 7b (3) by Senators Button, Chaney, Durack, Everett, James McClelland and myself. Therefore I move:

In proposed new clause 17b sub-clause (3), delete all the words after 'Chief Judge 'and insert the following: 'and such number of Senior Judges and other Judges as may be prescribed by Regulations from time to time'.

Proposed new sub-clause (3 ) at present reads:

The Court consists of a Chief Judge, the Senior Judges and the other Judges from time to time holding office in accordance with this Act.

Very often one finds in Acts of this nature a provision stating how many judges can be appointed, how many senior judges there will be and how many other judges there will be. It is understandable that this cannot be done with a court of this nature. It is not as yet certain as to what its size will be, what parts there may be to it and what appointments it will need to make. Therefore it is understandable that the numbers should not be set out in a specific way at present. However, it is the opinion of the members of the Senate Committee that there ought to be some continuing control in this Parliament of the size and the development particularly in the critical initial stages of this Act being brought into operation. So this amendment has been sought by members of the Committee. We feel that this legislation should be brought back to the Parliament on occasions when members are to be appointed so that the Parliament will have an idea of how the operation is going and how many members there will be, because the numbers could be very extensive or very few.

I draw attention, because it is relevant, to a subsequent amendment I propose to move on behalf of 3 members of the Committee in relation to a proposed new sub-clause (4) providing for the actual operation of those regulations, It will provide that regulations should not be made under which appointments are made and which can subsequently be disallowed by one of the Houses of the Parliament. That would be entirely unfortunate in its effect because the regulations would have operated to appoint judges who then would still be members of the court. So that is the effect of the second amendment. It is the feeling of members of the Committee that the implementation of the Bill and the appointment and numbers of judges and the proportion of them should be matters within the purview of this Parliament, particularly during the period when the Bill is coming into operation.

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