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Tuesday, 26 November 1974
Page: 2754

Senator EVERETT (Tasmania) - It seems to me that, in a mutual desire to help, a problem is being created which will be regretted in the future. I agreed, as a member of the Senate Standing Committee on Constitutional and Legal Affairs, to amendment No. 32 which appears on page 8 of the document titled 'List of Amendments proposed to be moved during the

Committee stage', but I certainly did not do so on the basis of linking it with amendment No. 33. I want to make it quite plain that despite what has been said this afternoon, I will oppose amendment No. 33 which the Chair has permitted to be discussed together with amendment No. 32, and I presume that I am in order in continuing to do that, Mr Chairman.

The CHAIRMAN - I do not know that you have necessarily quoted the right numbers, but by all means proceed.

Senator EVERETT - I am referring to this new document titled 'List of Amendments proposed to be moved during the Committee stage' that I received only this morning. It consolidates all the amendments and consists of 37 pages. It is amendment No. 32, in an amended form, which is now being discussed. I see a situation in which it may be necessary to appoint an additional judge of the Family Court at fairly short notice. It seems to me that 6 judges- it is only one per State- would be a completely bare minimum, so far as the Family Court is concerned if it is to achieve the purposes that the Attorney-General has conceived for it. If the situation arises, as it must arise, I suggest, during the evolution of this Court, in which let us say, in the middle of December it is decided as a matter of administrative policy that there ought to be a second judge in New South Wales, this would mean, if amendment No. 32 is taken in conjunction with amendment No. 33, that it would be approximately April or May of the following year before an appointment could be made. That would be the practical situation.

Senator Wood - It would not be as long as that if the sub-clause stipulated only 7 sitting days.

Senator EVERETT - I have said that a decision is made, let us say, on 15 December. It would be 10 weeks before the Senate meets, and if it were 7 sitting days, that would be into the third week. At any rate, we are getting a period of 4 months or so. It would seem to me that it would be undesirable for Parliament to put such an administrative restriction on the implementation of this Bill, and I want to make it perfectly plain that I will oppose amendment No. 33. As regards the limitation to 6 judges in amendment No. 32, it is invidious for me, if the AttorneyGeneral concedes that that is sufficient, to argue against it, but I remind the Committee of what it is doing by this amendment. I suggest that it is putting the Government into a strait-jacket from which it can escape only by an amendment of this proposed new section at a subsequent time.

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