THE HON MARK DREYFUS QC MP
SHADOW MINISTER FOR NATIONAL SECURITY
MEMBER FOR ISAACS
SENATOR LOUISE PRATT
DEPUTY CHAIR LEGAL AND CONSTITUTIONAL AFFAIRS LEGISLATION COMMITTEE
SHADOW ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR UNIVERSITIES
SHADOW ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR EQUALITY
SENATOR FOR WESTERN AUSTRALIA
TIME TO LISTEN TO THE SENATE ON FAMILY COURT CONSULTATION
On Tuesday, the Senate passed its third motion instructing the government to conduct adequate consultation on its family court merger bills. It is time for the government to listen.
The government has defied the will of the Senate at every step of this process, turning it into a ridiculous farce.
Last week, Senator Rex Patrick successfully moved a motion to extend the closing date for submissions from September 28 to November 23. But government members of the Legal and Constitutional Affairs Legislation Committee refused to adjust the planned report date, and insisted on maintaining a report date just one business day later.
Now, the Senate has instructed the government that it cannot hold hearings until after submissions are due, through a further motion from Senator Patrick.
The government now simply has no choice but to agree to delay the report date. If it does not, it will not be able to hold hearings before it produces a report. This is plainly ridiculous.
The government should agree with the Senate’s decision to have the committee report on 15 April 2019, to allow time for proper consultation, and for the completion of the Australian Law Reform Commission review of the family law system, due on 31 March 2019.
The 500-plus pages of bills put forward by the government represent the effective abolition of the family court, a legacy of the Whitlam government from 1975. It is time the government drops their ridiculous efforts to rush this through, and withstand some proper scrutiny of its plans.