When the Federal Government recently proudly announced its brand new family law inquiry, Pauline Hanson seized the chance to thrust herself back into the political and national spotlight.
The Government managed to dodge past attempts at blocking by Labor and the Greens, and has pretty much ignored the widespread condemnation of Hanson’s involvement. Hanson has openly expressed her view that women often strategically lie in the family courts about abuse.
The new review is supposed to “…examine issues including the onus of proof required to gain an apprehended violence order, the cost of the court process and claims of false evidence being used against a former partner”.
But critics say spending funds conducting yet another family law inquiry is unnecessary, wasteful and even harmful for victims of family violence.
There’s lingering fears that this is a partisan, political PR stunt and there are widespread calls for the Government to look at and respond to the information already gathered during the recent thorough inquiries and review by the House of Representatives and Australian Law Reform Commission.
The Sydney Morning Herald notes:
“The ALRC handed down 60 recommendations to government in April as part of its comprehensive review of Australia’s family law system, commissioned by the Coalition in 2017. Estimates heard that Mr Porter and his department are still working on the government’s response.”
Liberal Minister for Women Marise Payne is reported as saying, in defence of the inquiry,:
“This is an important inquiry. It has a varied membership in terms of the committee. It is moving away from that focus on procedural and substantive law, which the Australian Law Reform Commission inquiry had.”
Another Liberal Senator, Sara Henderson, has also declared in her maiden speech that another inquiry is warrantted because family violence is an emergency potentially greater than the climate emergency.
There’s now a sense of resignation that this inquiry will be going ahead. But there’s the view that if it does go ahead, at least it should be free of bias and should involve family violence experts and sufferers (because family violence and abuse affect such a large group of family court litigants).
“Family violence is a reality for 70% of families that come into the law court system,” says Rosie Batty, who is out raising awareness of the issues.
The Law Council has decided to think positive and back the inquiry, but has joined the voices calling for family violence training for MPs on the family law inquiry.
Both also called for general reform of the ailing system, Including investing in alternative dispute resolution and the need to tackle reform around the intersection between federal and state legislation on family violence issues.
We’ll keep you posted on developments
Please note our blogs are not legal advice. For information on how to obtain the correct legal advice, please contact Alliance Legal Services.