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Wednesday, 18 November 1959

Mr COSTA (Banks) .- I want to make a few remarks on this clause. The ground for divorce is -

That, since the marriage, the other party to the marriage has, without just cause or excuse, wilfully deserted the petitioner for a period of not less than two years;

This clause does not invite desertions. It does not give a right to the guilty party to apply for a divorce. It may well be that a period longer than two years may elapse before the deserted party petitions for a divorce. Even after a petition has been lodged the court must be satisfied that there is ground for the divorce. The desertion could not be a phoney desertion. This paragraph will not make divorce any easier. We are merely discussing a period of time. Honorable members who have objected to this paragraph have not objected to divorce on the ground of desertion. They have merely objected to the period of desertion being two years instead of three years. That argument has as much logic in it as an argument as to the difference between Tweedledee and Tweedledum.

The great principle involved in clause 27 (b), as in every other clause, is unification. Most people in Australia want unified matrimonial legislation. I think we should not allow paragraph (b) to stand in the way of attaining that objective. For that reason I propose to vote against the amendment.

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