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Thursday, 21 November 1974
Page: 2664

Senator James McClelland (NEW SOUTH WALES) - Most of the amendments proposed by the Senate Select Committee on Constitutional and Legal Affairs were adopted by the Attorney-General (Senator Murphy) and that is why he has been moving them. There are about half a dozen amendments which the Attorney-General has not seen fit to adopt, and the Committee still wishes to have these amendments made to the Bill. I move:

In sub-clause (2 ) insert the following new paragraph: (aa) with the consent of those parries, interview them in Chambers, with or without Counsel, as the Judge thinks proper, with a view to effecting a reconciliation; and '.

The thinking behind this amendment is that it provides a further facility in the reconciliation process- There is something rather like this in the Act as it stands at the present time. But the view seems to have been taken by the draftsman that to leave a function for the judge in divorce proceedings to act as a conciliator is in some way inappropriate. That seems to be the reason why this was dropped. But the Committee took the view that in a case in which there appeared to be a possibility of reconcilation the judge should not be excluded from the reconciliation process and that he could be endowed with the function which is expressed in this amendment. That is, at any stage in the proceedings when he thought a reconciliation possible the judge himself could step down from the bench and invite the parties or one of them to come into his chambers- he might decide it would be better not to have the lawyers around on such an occasion- and talk to them about the possibility of patching up the marriage.

This, I think, also shows how seriously the Committee viewed the reconciliation process in this Bill and shows that it was quite serious in regarding the Bill not just as a measure for dissolving marriages but also as a measure for saving marriages wherever possible.

Senator Greenwood - Did you advert to this aspect in your report?

Senator James McClelland (NEW SOUTH WALES) -No, this is not mentioned in the report. This is something which arose later. In fact after the Committee had completed its deliberations I think Senator Missen was approached by an organisation in Melbourne.

Senator Missen - Members of the Law Council.

Senator James McClelland (NEW SOUTH WALES) -He was persuaded of the worth of this amendment. The Committee met again. He suggested this to us and we all found it appealing, and that is how it finds its place here today.

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