The New South Wales Bar Association has made a submission to the Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee’s Inquiry into two bills which are currently before the Parliament to restructure the Federal Courts and in effect abolish the Family Court of Australia. The Association’s submission on the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia Bill 2018 and the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia (Consequential Amendments and Transitional Provisions) Bill 2018 is available here.
The Association does not dispute that reform of Australia’s family law system is required to address the chronic and sustained underfunding and under-resourcing of the Courts and legal aid, mismanagement of existing resources and provide a consistent internal case management approach. However, it is critical not to attempt to rush through proposals without informed consideration of viable alternatives. Many of the Bills’ purported goals, such as the reduction of delays and improved efficiencies, could be achieved without legislation through the creation of consistent court rules using existing rule-making powers, and through a significant resource commitment from government.
The Association does not support the passage of these Bills and recommends that debate should not occur in the Senate until after the ALRC has reported on its root and branch inquiry into the family law system. Further information about the Bills and the Inquiry is available here.