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Thursday, 9 March 1972
Page: 640

Senator BYRNE (Queensland) - This Part of the Bill is a very big departure from the traditional altitude to the husband-wife relationship and communications between the 2 spouses. 1 would have felt that as this is such a major departure the Senate and the Parliament would have been owed a total examination and that a collection of philosophical and legal comments on the subject should have been provided for the Senate. We can do our own researches. We can have our own views. Practitioners who have had long and distinguished careers in law have spoken on this; they would speak from their experiences. But their comments may well be brushed aside on a closer and deeper philosophic and social examination of the situation. 1 feel that we should have been asked to make this radical departure only when we had before us, perhaps at the instance of the Government, papers presenting a collection of judicial opinion, judicial experience, academic opinion and things of that nature. It may not be thought that that lies within the province of the Government.

The Attorney-General, in his second reading speech, condescended in particular detail, but really in an explanatory way, to point out the variations in the law but he did not give the philosophical or social bases on which it was suggested that the variations be made. As the departure is a very radical one I feel that it should not be left to the resources and the researches of individual senators but that the subject should have received examination by the Government and that we should have been provided with the source materials. Obviously if a departure such as this is to be embarked upon something must have stimulated the Government to make it. It would be stimulated either by the experience of the Crown's officers or by the examinations of the academics or the social philosophers who have placed their views before the Government. I think that the Government should have acquainted the Senate with what prompted it to make this departure. As I have not had the opportunity to make the necessary research or to form a firm conclusion I am reluctant to be a party to the departure. I know that the Attorney-General has been asked to and has agreed to defer consideration of certain parts of the Bill until a later hour. I am afraid that if my proposition is accepted consideration would have to be deferred until a very much later hour so that there could be a study of this base material.

Senator Greenwood - Beyond 31st March?

Senator BYRNE - I understand the position. That is one reason why I am most reluctant to agree to this extension, in the absence of a deep examination of the proposition. I do not know whether the Attorney-General might care to comment on the suggestions that I have placed before him.

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