The Morrison government will aim to pass legislation to reform the family courts system in the final sitting fortnight of the year, after a Senate inquiry endorsed the proposal.
Attorney-General Christian Porter said the government would introduce the legislation to parliament “as a priority” in the first week of December, after the proposal was endorsed by Coalition senators on the Senate legal and constitutional affairs committee after a 12-month inquiry.
Labor senators issued a dissenting report opposing the reform, which would merge the Federal Circuit Court and Family Court of Australia into a new single court.“Labor has already caused unnecessary delays to this legislation by insisting on a 12-month inquiry and I would now urge them to put politics aside and help us to deliver these important reforms, which will provide significant benefits for families going through a separation,” Mr Porter said.
“Everyone involved in the family law system has known for years that the system is broken and needs to be reformed as a priority.
“Our legislation will simplify the system by creating a single entry point, one set of forms, procedures, rules and practice management styles, making the court process easier to navigate for families and saving them considerable time and money in the process.”
There were three Liberal members of the Senate committee, two Labor and one Green.
The reform is opposed by the Law Council of Australia.
Opposition legal affairs spokesman Mark Dreyfus said the “radical proposal to effectively abolish the Family Court is a destructive and damaging move which will put Australian families at greater risk in their time of greatest need”.
“The existence of a stand-alone specialist Family Court is crucial to the wellbeing of many thousands of Australians, especially young children,” Mr Dreyfus said.
“It is too important to be dealt with in such a chaotic and arrogant fashion.
“Sadly, government senators on the Senate’s legal and constitutional affairs committee inquiry decided to ignore the overwhelming evidence against the Morrison government’s misconceived proposal.”