Wednesday, 7 October 2020
Legal and Constitutional Affairs Legislation Committee; Reporting Date
(a) the Senate notes that:
(i) when the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia Bill 2019 and a related bill were referred to the Legal and Constitutional Affairs Legislation Committee in December 2019, it was done so on the basis that the Legislation Committee would report after the Joint Select Committee on Australia's Family Law System had reported on 7 October 2020,
(ii) on 31 August 2020 both Houses of Parliament agreed to extend the reporting date for the Joint Select Committee to the last sitting day in February 2021 due to COVID-19, and
(iii) a new date of 31 March 2021 for the Legislation Committee to report would allow the committee one month to consider the final report of the Joint Select Committee and finalise its own report; and
(b) the time for the presentation of the report of the Legal and Constitutional Affairs Legislation Committee on the provisions of the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia Bill 2019 and the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia (Consequential Amendments and Transitional Provisions) Bill 2019 be extended to 31 March 2021.
The government does not support a further delay in the committee's reporting date for this necessary reform to the family law courts. This reform has already been the subject of a previous Senate committee inquiry that reported in February 2019 and now has again already been under inquiry by that same committee since December. These bills give effect to a targeted and meaningful reform to what are known structural failings of the current split family law system. These bills will increase the number of matters resolved each year and reduce the cost and time expended by families. Delaying the committee's report further only harms Australian families, simply because Labor members of the committee either won't or aren't able to do their job.