Tuesday, 15 October 2019
Australia's Family Law System Joint Select Committee
Before moving general business notice of motion No. 175, I ask that the names of Senators Bilyk and Sheldon be added to the motion. I, and also on behalf of Senators McKim, Bilyk and Sheldon, move:
(1) The Senate notes:
(a) the Joint Select Committee on Australia's Family Law System (the Committee) was appointed by resolution of the Senate on 18 September 2019, and resolution of the House of Representatives on 19 September 2019;
(b) final membership of the Committee has yet to be confirmed, however, Mr Kevin Andrews, MP is to be appointed as the Chair and Senator Hanson as the Deputy Chair;
(c) the Federal Government has yet to act on or respond to the recommendations of the Australian Law Reform Commission review of the family law system;
(d) up to 85% of matters in the Family Court involve family violence and abuse;
(e) since the announcement of the inquiry into Australia's family law system, numerous women's and children's safety organisations, including the Government reference group and Australian Women Against Violence Alliance, have condemned the inquiry and the proposed appointment of Mr Andrews and Senator Hanson; and
(f) more than 1400 emails have been sent to the Prime Minister and other parliamentarians expressing concern that victims and survivors of family violence and abuse will not feel safe to give evidence to the inquiry, compromising the legitimacy of any recommendations made by the Committee.
(2) The Senate calls on the Federal Government to:
(a) immediately abandon the unnecessary and harmful inquiry by the Joint Select Committee on Australia's Family Law System;
(b) respond to the recommendations of:
(i) the Australian Law Reform Commission's review of family law, and
(c) implement evidence-based strategies to make family law safer for victims and survivors of family violence.
(3) This resolution be communicated to the House of Representatives for concurrence.
The Morrison government is committed to ongoing improvements to the family law system because this is a serious issue. Many Australians go through the system during an extremely traumatic time in their lives, and that's why the government intends to legislate to fix the broken split family law court system. The inquiry will provide an important opportunity for parliamentarians to hear from Australians. The inquiry will build on the action the government has already taken, including measures taken following the 2017 Social Policy and Legal Affairs Committee inquiry chaired by now-Senator Henderson. It includes passing legislation to ban the cross-examination, in the family law system, of family violence victims by alleged perpetrators. The government also continues to consider the review by the ALRC and intends to provide a response to the recommendations of that report has soon as possible. Since 2013, the government has invested over $840 million to address family and domestic violence.