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Thursday, 21 November 1974
Page: 2656

Senator MURPHY (New South WalesAttorneyGeneral) - Senator Greenwoodraises a theoretical kind of proposition. He asks: If someone contends that an assault on a wife is a matrimonial cause could a question be raised? Of course it could. As I see the situation it would be disposed of very quickly and the answer would be no.

Senator Greenwood - 1 am asking where it could be disposed of- before what sort of a court?

Senator MURPHY - The honourable senator is asking whether a question can be raised so that an answer can be given. Of course it can. The honourable senator is putting to me a theoretical possibility as to whether a matter can be raised. If it is raised the answer will clearly be given that it is not a matrimonial cause. If one looks back to the definition one sees a reference to marital relationship. The Bill states: 4 (e) proceedings for an order or injunction in circumstances arising out of the marital relationship.

I think the answer is that in theory anyone can raise a question anywhere. To take a ludicrous example someone could say that a contract for the sale of goods was a matrimonial cause. But the answer would be that it was not and the court would get on to the next business. Simply, what Senator Greenwood is asking is whether people can take points in a court of law and ask for a decision as to the ambit of the matrimonial causes functions. My answer is that of course they can. I suppose they will take points. Somebody will try to take absurd points and somebody will take sensible points. We will get decisions and resolutions. If the honourable senator can suggest to me a way by which we can draw any Act of Parliament in this area to remove the possibility that somebody may be able to take some point to get a decision I will be pleased to know. He will have made a significant contribution to legislation. But the plain fact is that this cannot be done. We will have marginal matters where people will raise questions and want decisions. That is the ordinary incident of legislation. It seems to me the matter is as simple as that.

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