Tuesday, 18 September 2018
Legal and Constitutional Affairs Legislation Committee
by leave—I move:
That the Senate directs that the Legal and Constitutional Affairs Legislation Committee, in relation to its inquiry into the provisions of the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia Bill 2018 and a related bill must only conduct public hearings after submissions to the inquiry have closed on 23 November 2018 and before 15 April 2019.
The government's proposed reforms will significantly improve the efficiency of the family law system, reduce the backlog of matters before the courts and drive faster and cheaper resolution of disputes for Australian families. There is precedent for allowing public hearings to be conducted before the closing date for submissions. This inquiry should be no different. By November 2018 those wishing to make submissions will have had almost three months to review the bills, which is far longer than most inquiries. This provides more than sufficient time to make submissions and hold hearings, considering the very limited number of either new or substantially changed provisions in the bills. We have the opportunity to act now and it is imperative that we do so in the best interests of Australian families, who have been calling for improvements for years.
The normal process for conducting inquiries is to call for submissions, to consider those submissions in the selection of witnesses and for the formation of questions, and then to hold the hearings. That's the best way to get results out of inquiries, to get the richest responses and determinations. It should only be in exceptional circumstances that we depart from that normal process.
Question agreed to.