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Wednesday, 16 October 1974
Page: 1741

The PRESIDENT - Does the honourable senator claim to have been misrepresented?

Senator MISSEN - Yes. I refer to a statement which appears on page 4 of today's 'Australian' and an almost identical article which appears in the Sydney 'Daily Telegraph'. The article which appears in the 'Australian' is headed 'Divorce Law Study agrees with Proposed Bill'. In many ways what follows is a most inadequate and misleading report. But the part of it which refers to me is a statement which describes the report of the Senate Standing Committee on Constitutional and Legal Affairs in these terms:

But the committee differed along Party lines on the length of period of separation in proving irretrievable breakdown.

The four Labor members opted for a 12 month period while the two Opposition senators preferred two years.

This difference will be resolved when the legislation is being debated in the Senate.

Which period is accepted will depend on the votes of the two independent senators.

There are several misrepresentations in that statement. The Committee did not differ on party lines in relation to that matter. It divided 4 votes to 2, and the 4 votes included my vote as a Liberal Party member of the Senate. There are not 4 Labor Party members on the Committee in question. Of course, the conclusions that follow from that in the report are misleading. There was no difficulty in determining the members of the Committee because page 24 of the Committee's report lists the members of the Committee who had differing views on the matter in question. I say that the article is defamatory, particularly in the eyes of members on this side of the Senate, because it claims that I am a member of the Labor Party. For different reasons it is probably equally abhorrent to honourable senators on the other side of the chamber. Whatever may be the feelings of honourable senators, I object to the article because of what it says and what it claims. I raise this matter in the Senate in the hope and the expectation that the newspapers in question will correct the gross misrepresentation which they have published.

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