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Wednesday, 27 November 1974
Page: 2893

Senator MURPHY (New South WalesAttorneyGeneral) - I thank honourable senators from Senator Wood onward who have said some complimentary things about me. I appreciate the way in which the Senate as a whole, especially in Committee, has dealt with the Bill. It is an extremely important Bill, as everyone recognises, which makes a significant contribution to social reform. I am glad that it has been dealt with in this way despite the discordant note. I thank especially the Chairman of Committees, Senator Webster, for the way in which he has dealt with the Bill courteously, patiently and efficiently, lt recalls to my mind the way in which he dealt once before with another very long Bill, the Trade Practices Bill. I thank him very much. I feel sure that the Senate is indebted to him. I also thank the Chairman and members of the Standing Committee on Constitutional and Legal Affairs. We know of the work they did in presenting a report on the clauses of the Bill. The Committee of the whole was very much assisted by that report.

I think all here will have noted that many of the amendments which I moved to the Bill, which was largely the same as was introduced last year, were those which were recommended by the Standing Committee. I thank that Committee for those recommendations; they were improvements to the Bill. Some of the amendments which it recommended I did not accept and they were moved by members of the Committee. Contrary to what has been suggested by several honourable senators opposite, it is quite clear that there was a division of opinion on the provisions of the Bill. On a number of occasions I voted against what was being put by members of the Standing Committee, including members from my Party, and I was defeated. The mere fact that the vote was not pushed to a division should not be allowed to gloss over the fact that there was a clear division of opinion and in the vote on a number of matters of some importance, not of overwhelming importance, I was defeated on the view which I took and in which I persisted. As well, on a number of other matters there were divisions on non-Party lines. It is quite wrong to suggest that in some way the Government senators were voting other than on free lines. The Government Party promised that honourable senators were entitled to a free vote and they had a free vote. The mere fact that there might be some concordance of opinion amongst them should not detract from the fact that they clearly had and exercised a free vote.

In the Bill there are provisions for an on-going examination by the Family Law Council and also a provision for an Institute of Family Studies to study the problems of the family. In this way the provisions of this Bill, if it becomes law, will be subjected to a rigorous examination in the light of experience and I trust that this will overcome some of the reservations which have been expressed by honourable senators opposite. Again, I thank all honourable senators for accepting the Bill.

Senator Marriott - Have you answered my questions?

Senator MURPHY - I will answer the questions asked by Senator Marriott as I recall them. The Office of Parliamentary Counsel has been associated with this Bill for some 12 months at least. The First Parliamentary Counsel will continue to be associated with it. Work is being done on putting the Bill together in a shape in which it can go to the House of Representatives. The honourable senator and I know that it would not be right for me to comment at all on the manner in which the House of Representatives might deal with a Bill which is sent from the Senate, and I shall not do so.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Bill read a third time.

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