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Tuesday, 16 May 1972
Page: 2524

Mr BIRRELL (PORT ADELAIDE, SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - I ask the Minister representing the Attorney-General a question relating to the church division in the Greek community of Australia wherein some

Greek priests in this country are not recognised as priests under Greek law. Are marriages performed by these priests, involving Greeks or Australians born of Greek parents, legal marriages under Australian law and does the Australian law legalise registry office marriages between Greeks or Australians born of Greek parents? If so, what action, if any. can the Australian Government take to prevail upon the Greek Government to accept these marriages as legal under Greek law?

Mr N H Bowen (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - I have had quite a number of deputations on this subject, some from members of the Opposition. We deplore the fact that there is a division in the church but there is little that the Australian Government can do about this in Australia. One of the consequences of this division is that although the Greek Government recognises marriages performed only by that section of the church which it recognises as the established church, in Australia we recognise marriages performed by both sections when the celebrants are registered under our Marriage Act. It is true that when persons whose marriages were not performed by the section of the church recognised by the Greek Government return to Greece they find that their marriages are not recognised. The way in which the Greek Government administers its own law is. of course, an internal and domestic matter for that Government. On the other hand, following upon deputations to me I have taken steps to consult our ambasador in Athens for further advice on this matter. 1 will be considering what arises out of that consultation. At present no definitive action is proposed.

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