A controversial bill to reshape the family law system by merging the Family Court and lower-level Federal Circuit Court has been shelved until next year, with the Morrison government running out of time to try to push it through the Senate in the final sitting week of the year.
Attorney-General Christian Porter said last month that progressing the courts merger bill through parliament would be a “priority” before Christmas.
However, a spokesman for Mr Porter said the reform would not make it through the Senate this week. Parliament rises on Thursday until February 2.
“The legislative agenda for the Senate this week is such that the courts merger bill won’t be progressed,” he said.
He added that it would “be a priority when parliament resumes”.
As revealed by The Australian, One Nation leader Pauline Hanson has said she supports the reform because it would “streamline the legal process”. However, the government still needs to win the support of one more crossbench senator — Rex Patrick or Stirling Griff — to ensure its passage through the Senate.
Labor, the Greens and independent senator Jacqui Lambie are opposed to it.
The legal profession has lobbied fiercely against the bill, which would create a new Federal Circuit and Family Court. Existing Family Court judges would form Division 1 of the new court, and Federal Circuit Court judges would form Division 2.