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Tuesday, 21 March 1961

Sir GARFIELD BARWICK (Parramatta) (Acting Minister for External Affairs and Attorney-General) . - by leave - I move -

That the bill be now read a second time.

Mr. Speaker,in moving the second reading of the Marriage Bill 1961, I think that, for the information of the House, a few words of explanation are necessary. Honorable members will recall that on 19th May, 1960, I moved the second reading of the Marriage Bill 1960 and, in doing so, said that the Government proposed to allow the secondreading debate to await the Budget session later in the year. During the Budget session, a second-reading debate on the measure ensued and the bill reached the committee stage.

It was not found possible to deal with the bill in committee during the sittings that ended last December, but the House will recall that during October of last year a number of amendments were printed and circulated for the information of honorable members. These amendments were prepared following representations by the States and interested organizations and persons in relation to the bill as originally introduced. In my second-reading speech, it will be remembered, I referred to the fact that there would be opportunity for these representations to be made. For the convenience of honorable members, the bill was reprinted incorporating the amendments which would have been dealt with in committee, together with the original bill, had it been found possible to proceed with the committee stage. As I have said, that was not found possible and the 1960 bill has now lapsed.

The Marriage Bill 1961 is virtually the reprinted bill distributed to honorable members in October last, but a few brief comments are necessary to bring the matter up to date. To put the bill in proper form for its re-introduction into the House, it was necessary to alter a number of provisions relating to the commencement of the bill, because the original intention was to bring certain provisions of the Marriage Bill into operation at the same time as the Matrimonial Causes Act 1959. That act came into operation on 1st February, 1961, so that the intention had to be abandoned. Alterations to the bill to take account of the changed circumstances together with several other alterations of a purely technical character make up, with one exception, the differences between the October reprint and the present bill. The exception is an alteration whereby two new paragraphs - (g) and (h) - have been inserted in clause 120 to make more certain the regulation-making power in relation to the registration of legitimations. It is proposed to leave the actual registration of legitimations effected by the bill to be covered by State and Territory law; but the scheme envisaged is to provide by regulations for the furnishing, by parents, of information in relation to legitimations to the relevant State or Territory registration authorities. Details of these provisions will be provided in the committee stage.

Because of the similarity between the MarriageBll1960 and the present bill, and because of the very full second-reading debate in this House last year, the present bill will go to the committee stage without a second-reading debate. In concluding, Mr. Speaker, I would like to reiterate something that I said last May, namely, that whilst the Government takes full responsibility for what is in the present bill, which it will support as a government, the measure will not be treated as a party measure and, as in the case of the Matrimonial Causes Bill, members will thus adopt their own attitudes and express them in their votes freely.

Mr. Speaker,I commend this bill to honorable members.

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