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Thursday, 21 November 1974
Page: 2683

Senator MURPHY (New South WalesAttorneyGeneral) - We do not have an Oaths Act as there is in the States. Senator Greenwood might ask me what happens if a judge breaks his oath. There are all sorts of oaths of allegiance. What happens under the Public Service Act if somebody breaks an oath? I suppose there are penalties. I have no doubt that if we looked into the matter we probably would find some kind of common law offence that would be applicable.

Senator Greenwood - I think that would be the case with judges.

Senator MURPHY - I am sure it would. I have no doubt that anybody who broke the oath of secrecy would be in a great deal of trouble. For a start I imagine they would be liable civilly for breach of this relationship of confidence. I would think that an injunction certainly could be available. It would be an interesting point. If the honourable senator wants me to pursue the matter I will find out what criminal remedies, if any, are available. I am sure someone would find that some kind of penalty is available. After all, it is an oath.

Senator Greenwood - And it is in aid of clause 16. That is why I asked the question. One can visualise difficult situations arising for counsellors.

Senator MURPHY -Clause 16 really says that the evidence is not admissable. The honourable senator asks what would happen if someone breaks an oath of secrecy. I refer to something which does not happen in court. For instance, what if a person goes to the local golf club and starts to tell all the latest juicy information obtained during the course of marriage counselling? There may be civil remedies. There may be some criminal remedy. I will look into the situation for the honourable senator.

Clause agreed to.

Proposed new heading 'Part IIIa- The Family Court of Australia '.

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