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Thursday, 5 December 2019
Page: 7057


Mr PORTER (PearceAttorney-General, Minister for Industrial Relations and Leader of the House) (10:06): I move:

That this bill be now read a second time.

The Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia (Consequential Amendments and Transitional Provisions) Bill 2019 forms part of the government's package of legislative reforms to the structure of the federal courts which will enhance the experience of Australian families in the family law system.

This bill is a companion bill to the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia Bill 2019 (the primary bill). It facilitates the transition for court users from the Family Court and the Federal Circuit Court to the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia, which will become known as the FCFC, on commencement of the legislation.

In February 2019 the Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs Legislation Committee delivered its report on the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia Bill 2018 and Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia (Consequential Amendments and Transitional Provisions) Bill 2018. The report outlined five recommendations. The government paid close attention to the concerns raised by the committee, and the present legislation package addresses the key concerns raised by the committee and stakeholders regarding the 2018 bills, while maintaining the critical objectives of the reforms.

The bill repeals and amends substantial parts of the Family Law Act 1975, as these provisions will now be covered by the primary bill. Similarly, the bill repeals the Federal Circuit Court of Australia Act 1999. There are also some amendments to the Federal Court Act 1976to achieve greater consistency between the federal courts and in recognition that the primary bill will provide for the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia to have its own chief executive officer.

The bill makes consequential amendments across the Commonwealth statute book to reflect the continuation of the FCFC (Division 1) and the FCFC (Division 2) and to update other references to legislation. The bill also includes a number of contingent amendments to reflect the effect of other bills currently before the parliament that refer to the Family Court or Federal Circuit Court, or judges or officers of the court.

The bill also ensures that appropriate transitional arrangements are in place, including for matters before the federal courts at the time of commencement of the primary bill. For example, the bill clarifies the arrangements for situations where matters have not been substantively heard before commencement, and where matters have been substantively heard in whole or part before commencement.

The bill will commence at the same time as the primary bill.

On behalf of the government I extend my thanks to the dedicated judges and officers of the Family Court and the Federal Circuit Court. Their jobs could in no way be described as simple or easy, but we are confident that this package of measures will go some distance to assist them in their task of helping Australian families to resolve their disputes.

The government has every confidence that this bill package will help Australian families more easily navigate the federal family court system during some of the most difficult and distressing times in people's lives. I commend the bill to the House.

Debate adjourned.