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Tuesday, 19 November 1974
Page: 2522

Senator SHEIL (Queensland) - I rise to speak in support of the amendment to defer the Family Law Bill 1974 until the autumn sitting. I am pleased that Senator Gietzelt was able to correct the time relationship involved in the amendment and I also would like to reassure him and other honourable senators that the opposition to the Bill is not as vehement or as much like a brick wall as he thinks it is. We seek merely to amend the Bill. I point out that by now this Bill is a grandparent Bill. This is the third time it has been brought into the Senate and each time it has been extensively amended. Now the sins of the grandparents are being visited on the grandchild. The Bill is to be amended another 92 times. I think there are another 13 amendments plus another 2 amendments. As was pointed out this afternoon by Senator Scott, the Bill is much more pot-bellied than it was when it was originally presented. This is a good thing because there are many good features in the Bill.

Honourable senators must remember that the Bill was brought in by a socialist. We are permitted to regard it with suspicion because often socialist legislation is long on promise and short on delivery. I must say it has often been a matter of much wonder to me that 2 young people should be expected to marry and live together for the rest of their lives when they are in the grip of a passion that renders them insane. Honourable senators must confess that love is an insanity, a delightful insanity, and it does exist. It was disquieting to hear earlier in the debate that in the marriage situation men are bad for women but women are good for men. I was relieved to hear it. I suspected it for some time, and we have been taking advantage of it. Perhaps we owe women a debt that has to be settled now.

The affairs of men and women are no simple matter. Indeed, they are the most complex matter in the world to deal with and they are not to be trifled with lightly. They involve the driving force of nature which perpetuates the species. All people, as was pointed out here today, I think, from the most primitive to the most civilised, have evolved the most complicated set of mores and rules with regard to sex, marriage and the procreation of children, and the religions have been quick to exploit these fertile fields. I point out to the Senate that most of the major wars in history have been fought over love between men and women or the want of it. All our famous operas, books, poems and songs are mainly about love so we are considering legislation about no little thing. We are considering legislation relating to a big thing.

We have built up a code of religious, moral and ethical standards surrounding sex, marriage and the upbringing of children. It has developed over many centuries and it is based on security for mothers, particularly during their child bearing period and all the nuances that go with it, and on providing care for the children. No creature in nature is so dependent on its parents as the human baby. If we are to change our standards we want to change them for something better, not something worse. This is why we want to be careful about this Bill. This is why we want further consideration of it by the Senate, by the community at large and by all the people intersted in it. The present Bill purports to represent this consideration but it has sent shivers through many sections of the community, particularly the religious sections.

The advent of the pill and other advanced means of contraception has emancipated our women in a most unprecedented way and it has altered our outlook on the man/woman relationship. In emancipating women it has brought them to a position where they are able to philander in much the same way as men have been able to do always. They have learned this recently, I think to their sorrow, and they are beginning to learn the truth of the old Latin dictum of post coitus homines tristus est, which roughly translated means 'After intercourse all people are sad'. It has engendered this permissive society in which we now live. We see trial marriages. We see communal living which is aided and abetted by the huge social welfare payments that are passed about now. As a practising doctor I am coming to the conclusion rapidly that in this situation the only real difference between rape and seduction is technique. Until recently our way of life has been support for the free enterprise system, the family unit and individual freedom. These 3 principles are being altered remarkably now. This Government intends to change the free enterprise system to a public enterprise system. This sort of system has been tried all round the world and has failed lamentably.

Senator Wheeldon - Are you advocating gang rape?

Senator SHEIL - No. Admittedly, before, under the capitalist free enterprise system we all shared blessings, perhaps unequally but they were blessings. Under the new system it looks as though we are all going to share misery equally. The family is being attacked. Particularly it is being attacked by inflation which destroys the means of exchanging the fruits of our labour. Many of the mothers who would ennoble our families are being forced out to work for money. The basic security of the family is now gone. No longer can a father afford to clothe, house and feed a family out of his earnings, so the wife has to help. I blame inflation for a lot of this. But suppose the socialists achieve their goal and socialise the place. This afternoon Senator Scott tried to peep into the future through the eyes of another person who may not have been that inaccurate.

I would like to tell the Senate about family life under the socialist system. In the earlier part of this year I was privileged to pay a fortnight 's visit to the People's Republic of China and during that time there was the Christian festival of Easter. Even though it is a movable feast it was not celebrated in China as there are no churches in that country. There is a little bit of background information that honourable senators should know in order to understand family life in that country. Except for a few racial minorities that exist around the country- there are 42 million people making up those racial minorities but they represent only 6 per cent of the populationall religion in the socialist State is forbidden by law. God is forbidden. Buddha is forbidden and Mohammed is forbidden. Not only is all religion forbidden; it is ridiculed as a device of the capitalist. It is pictured to the people as either hopeless faith or faithless hope. There is a policy in China that the woman is equal to a man. I think that one Government senator was referring this afternoon to this equality that socialists feel is so important. But is she equal to the man? China has this policy, it appeared to me that all that it meant was that the burdens of being a woman were added to by the burdens of being a man and part of the workforce. I would point out that 62 per cent of the work force in China is women because most of the men are in the armies which police the country because being a socialist country it has to be a police state.

Senator Wheeldon - I thought the complaint was that the Army here was too small. I did not realise it was supposed to be too big.

Senator SHEIL - The Army there polices the country like a police force, senator. In China there is a totally planned economy with directions coming down as edicts from above. Communes, work brigades, and production teams are given their production goals from the hierarchy. If a woman is a member of a production team, which they all are when they are old enough, becomes pregnant then, firstly, that reduces her income, and secondly, it reduces the income of the production team. The psychology there is that the people should try to deny the right of women to become pregnant. I might add that once a woman is 7 months pregnant she is allowed off the night shift, which is something, and when she has the baby she is allowed to feed it but at 56 days she has to wean it and then the child is taken off to a nursery and the mother goes back to work. She is allowed to visit the child on Sunday, which is not our idea of family life. In China families grow apart, particularly as under socialism there is a direction of labour. The father may be sent to one part of the country to work and the mother to another part, so family life is disrupted. On the occasions when a child is allowed home, the child comes home not only for perhaps the joys of whatever family reunion there is but also to criticise the parents to ascertain whether they are backsliding against the Party line. Husbands criticise wives and vice versa, children criticise parents and vice versa and neighbours criticise friends. This is the means of maintaining discipline in the country. This may be very well for the people of China. I would not denigrate them at all. I found them a wonderful people. I enjoyed their company; I hope they enjoyed mine. I do not think that it is the sort of tiling that the people of Australia want, but I think it is the sort of thing that this Government is aiming for. I do not think we will accept it. I wonder whether this Government thinks that it can stop somewhere along the way to socialism. It cannot do that. Once you implement socialist policies it must follow like night follows day that you produce a police state in the nation because you must direct labour.

Senator Missen - Are you talking about the Bill?

Senator SHEIL - I am talking about family life in a socialist state. In China marriage is easy, as the honourable senator who interjected wants; divorce is easy; abortion is easy. The registry offices there do not even have a ceremony. They do not have wedding celebrations. There are no parties in China. There no holidays in China. I might add as an interpolation that there are trade unions in China but they exist to ensure that production teams meet their production goals. I thought that perhaps some of our trade unions might take a leaf from their book. When a marriage is dissolved in China there is no problem about property settlement simply because there is no private property there- no private cars, no private houses, no private land, no private businesses. So there are no difficulties in that respect. When it comes to the custody of children there is no problem at all because the state looks after them anyway. So China is without problems in the marriage field. I have seen going through this place over the past almost 2 years a whole pattern of legislation that is geared to socialism and the control of the people by the state as exists in China where the interests of the people are in all respects subservient to the state.

Senator Milliner - Senator Geenwooddid not find that.

Senator SHEIL - He did not talk about that. I agree with Senator Carrick who said that far more important than this Bill to make divorce easier is that we should introduce a means to help sustain the whole system of marriage. I think premarital and marital advice is important. Young people want instruction in such knotty matters as insurance whether it be health, personal or property, budgeting, taxation banking, existing welfare services, family planning.

Senator Melzer - Sex?

Senator SHEIL - As a matter of fact, if any couples come wanting advice on sex they are probably better advised not to get married because it shows they are not helping each other. They want to know about educational opportunities both for children and adults, and also investment although I think that if this Government keeps going the way it has been much longer they will not need much instruction in investment. I was apprehensive when I heard it promulgated by the chairman of the committee that reviewed this legislation that he foresees the eventual elimination of maintenance and the treatment of maintenance by the Department of Social Security which would finance it in the same way as it finances unemployment and sickness benefits and other disabilities. I see this as an undesirable goal to be aiming for and something along the lines of the vision seen by the lady to whom Senator Scott referred of this afternoon. I cannot see the Australian people accepting a proposition like that.

I have a concern about the transfer of guilt from the divorce proceeding into the settlement proceeding. I agree with Senator Carrick that I think this is just taking things out of one pocket and putting them into another. Things will be just as bitter and just as difficult and will need the same sorts of investigation, evidence and every other thing. Divorce may not be bitter but I think that settlement will be a problem. I do agree with Senator Baume that an additional ground for divorce is warranted- that of intolerable conductparticularly if an urgent separation is required. I am disturbed that 12 months separation should be the sole ground for proof of irretrievable breakdown but I do agree that all the counselling facilities should be settled outside the court.

There are many good things in the Bill which I hope we do not see wasted if it is implemented. I do agree that it will alter our whole outlook on the institution of marriage and family life but I think we must have the courage to face up to that. When I married it was for life and it was a contract for ever. I think that if ever I come back to earth I will have to go looking for my wife again. Senator Missen answers all of this on the grounds that marriage is a popular and a congenial institution and is strong enough to overcome all these disabilities. I am inclined to agree with him. I hope that the people who are in favour of bringing in this Bill willy nilly will see that this next little gap is just a final step to bring about a whole change on our outlook on marriage and divorce because the Bill is a divorce Bill that comes in at the point of break up of marriage. Although the provisions of the Bill have been extended by the 3 lots of amendments on the 3 occasions it has been submitted and debated and now covers a lot more ground, it still can hardly be called a family law Bill. I would not be prepared to argue that but I would want the supporters of the Bill to realise the benefits that can be gained by just a shade more consideration being given to the legislation. You never know, many more good things might show up before it is represented in the autumn session.

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