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Wednesday, 27 November 1974
Page: 2890

Senator MARRIOTT (Tasmania) - I rise briefly, but sincerely, to seek some information from the Attorney-General (Senator Murphy). 1 have been extremely silent throughout the Committee stage of the Bill because 1 realise that in the Senate we have some of the most able legal brains that have given great attention to all aspects of this Bill. I was prepared to listen to the debate and vote accordingly. More often than not I voted on the losing side. I remind the Senate that in my participation in the second reading debate I urged delay because I thought the report of the Senate Standing Committee on Constitutional and Legal Affairs should have been circulated and understood by the public and that public opinion should have become vocal. I also held the belief that with so many amendments the Bill should have been delayed until the next session so that public opinion could become vocal. As a result of parliamentary experience I raised the point of view that as there were over 100 amendments to the 90-odd clauses of the Bill it would be difficult for the Parliamentary Counsel to keep up with the insertion of the amendments and to know what effect they would have on the whole spectrum of the Bil! and allied legislation, if there is such legislation.

I am not going to be provocative but in the divisions in which 1 took part only once was there a division in which some Government supporters voted on the same side as the Opposition. In the majority of divisions in the Committee stage it was revealed that the Government and some Opposition supporters voted against the remainder of the Opposition. This Bill is to go to the other place and it will go there as a completely new publication. Anything honourable members in the other place have read about the Bill prior to its coming into the Senate will be a handicap to them, not a help. I want some information from the Attorney-General which I think should be revealed to the Senate. We have a responsibility to ask the Government this question: Will time be given for the Parliamentary Counsel and the Attorney-General's Department, if it is appropriate for it to have a say, to have a reprint of the Bill and to make a study of it in order to ensure that it is a legal entity, a viable law, an understandable law and a watertight law before it goes to the other place where no doubt it will be rushed through, guillotined or gagged.

Government supporters- Oh!

Senator MARRIOTT -Government supporters should not say 'Oh'. That is the truth. There are only 9 sitting days left in which the House of Representatives can meet. I understand that the Press reports fairly the leaks it gets from the 'think tanks ' and I understand from the Press that some 50 or 60 Bills are to be considered in the other place in the last 9 days that it can possibly meet in this session of Parliament. I believe I am being fair and just and am doing the right thing by the Senate in asking the AttorneyGeneral to tell us the program as to when this Bill, passed at its third reading stage here tonight, with my vote, will be presented for a first reading in the other place. As the senior legal man in the Australian Government will he say that he believes iri his heart that the Bill as presented for a first reading in the House of Representatives will be one that lawyers will not be able to drive a bullock wagon through? If a bad Bill is passed, the speed, the cheapness and ease of divorce aimed at in this Bill will go by the board. There will be frustration and expense to litigants and thousands of dollars will flow to the legal profession which will drive holes through a Bill rushed through this Parliament. If the Attorney-General can give me his assurance that in his belief the Bill as presented for a first reading in the other place will represent sound legislation I will believe him.

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