Family law review welcomed but more must be done

Labor welcomes the Australian Law Reform Commission’s review of the family law system, the first since the 1970s.

THE HON MARK DREYFUS QC MP

SHADOW ATTORNEY-GENERAL

SHADOW MINISTER FOR NATIONAL SECURITY

ACTING SHADOW MINISTER FOR JUSTICE

MEMBER FOR ISAACS

 

FAMILY LAW REVIEW WELCOMED BUT MORE MUST BE DONE

 

Labor welcomes the Australian Law Reform Commission’s review of the family law system, the first since the 1970s.

 

But the two-year review cannot be allowed to delay urgent action that can be taken to fix the crisis in the family courts right now.

 

Senator Brandis can start by announcing a replacement for Family Court Chief Justice Diana Bryant, who is retiring in two weeks. Such an appointment is usually made several months in advance.

 

George Brandis himself has created some of the “pressures” on the system that this review is set up to examine, including an inexplicable failure to appoint replacement judges on time.

 

His failure to appoint a Federal Circuit Court Judge in Newcastle for 12 months, for example, has created huge backlogs in that jurisdiction that have harmed families.

 

Threatened cuts to legal assistance services have created major uncertainty for a key support network in the family law system.

 

And the government has still not announced any funding to facilitate an end to domestic violence survivors being cross-examined by their abusers in court.

 

None of these problems can afford to wait until the report’s due date in 2019. Action must be taken concurrently with the ALRC’s work.

 

Labor intends to make a submission to the review and looks forward to what will no doubt be a number of worthwhile recommendations for reform.

 

THURSDAY, 28 SEPTEMBER 2017