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Thursday, 15 May 1980
Page: 2283

Senator MELZER (Victoria) -by leave-The motion appointing the Committee on the Family Law Act was first moved by the AttorneyGeneral (Senator Durack) in the Senate on 17 August 1978. The resolution in paragraph 12 contained provision that the Committee report to Parliament by the 31 December 1979. On 12 September 1979 a motion was moved in the Senate by Senator Coleman to extend to 3 1 May 1980 the time in which the Committee was expected to report. I have now replaced Senator Coleman as Deputy Chairman of the Committee.

The Senate will recall that Senator Coleman is on leave of absence because of illness. I know well her enthusiasm for the work and I know how disappointed she is at not being able to continue as Deputy Chairman.

A further extension of time for the Committee to make its report is to be sought later. I am conscious that it has already been necessary for the Committee to seek an extension. I assure the Senate that this is not due to want of either interest or application on the part of the Committee members. The Committee has undertaken a heavy program of meetings since Christmas and considerable progress has been made. Our deliberations are close to finality. The Committee has under consideration a draft report and we expect to conclude our deliberations in the next few weeks. However, on reflection, the task appeared so formidable that it seemed more sensible to seek some additional time from Parliament. For instance, it would not have been possible for our report to have been printed for distribution until some weeks after tabling, even if we had succeeded in meeting the present deadline. This would have inconvenienced honourable senators and those members of the public interested in the outcome of our inquiry. There was also the possibility that the document, if got together in haste, would be deficient in certain respects. The extra time will ensure the possibility of thorough editorial work on the document.

Senator Cavanagh - What is the time limit? It is an extension of time, is it not?

Senator MELZER - I must say that the statement I just put down does not indicate the extended time limit, but as I understand it it will be until the end of August this year- 3 1 August.

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