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Wednesday, 26 April 1972
Page: 1330

Senator RAE (TASMANIA) - Will the AttorneyGeneral advise whether any progress has been made in the consideration being given by him and his Department to the introduction of a system of family courts in Australia?

Senator GREENWOOD - I think it is quite clear that a need exists in this country for a review of the whole of our law relating to divorce, family law and custody of children. That point of view has commended itself to the Senate which, late in 1971, referred this whole question to one of its standing committees. I am certainly concerned about the matter. A considerable amount of preliminary work has been done within my own Department to assess the position. Part of that work has been done for the purpose of the Senate Standing Committee which has requested assistance. I can only say that a real problem confronts me and, I think, confronts the Government when a Senate Standing Committee is undertaking this work, in knowing to what extent the responsible Minister is entitled to embark upon a considerable inquiry within his own Department. That is a matter upon which the decision of the Government ultimately must be taken. I can only respond to the honourable senator by saying that I have arranged within my Department for some work and attention to be given to this problem. I would hope that, in due course, the results of that initial assessment can be made public.

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