Federal Parliament - Family Law Amendment (Western Australia De Facto Superannuation Splitting and Bankruptcy) Bill 2019

November 09, 2020

Dr ALYAs a Western Australian, I'm very proud to stand here—and particularly to follow my colleague, the member for Burt—and speak on the Family Law Amendment (Western Australia De Facto Superannuation Splitting and Bankruptcy) Bill 2019, which will finally bring some form of equality to Western Australian de facto couples.

Most de facto couples in Western Australia wouldn't know that they wouldn't be able to split their superannuation assets as part of the division of family property, as couples around Australia have been able to do since 2001. They probably wouldn't know that until such time as they may have to, sadly, undertake a separation as a de facto couple, look at their assets and go through that process. So I'm really happy to support this bill that will address that anomaly that's been going on for, as the member for Burt said, way too long.

Labor will always support any sensible reform to the Family Law Act that's going to make it easier—as easy as it possibly can be for families going through separation—to go through the family law system and have outcomes that put the interests of the children as the first and priority point of interest and their welfare at the centre of it. As you would know, Deputy Speaker, we currently have a special inquiry—it's yet another special inquiry into family law. I know from being on that inquiry that we have a long history of inquiries into family law and the various issues around family law and the operation of the courts in this place, yet this government has not yet introduced any real reform that would make the experience of going to the Family Court a little bit easier on those families going through it, particularly for the children of those families.

In terms of the draft legislation before us, I note that the Attorney-General introduced this bill into the parliament on 27 November last year. Considering that that's almost a year ago to the day, I imagine there have been several opportunities to bring this bill on for debate. Considering that the Attorney-General is himself a Western Australian, I would have thought that he would have put a little more effort into ensuring that this bill was passed. Sadly, this Attorney-General has proven on several occasions that, despite being a Western Australian, he has abandoned the interests of his state and doesn't really fight for Western Australia much at all. But we're talking here about an Attorney-General who didn't have time to set up a federal integrity commission, either. Despite dozens and dozens of other bills being brought on for debate over the last 12 months, this one has not. This bill is non-controversial and has had support from both sides, but it is an extremely important bill, and extremely important for those people in Western Australia. Imagine how many de facto couples in the last 12 months have had to go through the courts and have had to go through the distribution of their financial assets—couples who could have had this legislation in place 12 months ago if this Attorney-General, a Western Australian, had done his job.

The delay in bringing this bill on is, I have to say, just further evidence of this Government's neglect for the entire family law system and of their neglect of the recommendations that have been made, time and time again, by practitioners, by people in the field, by experts and by the numerous inquiries that we've had. While this government sit on their hands and while this Attorney-General sits on his hands in terms of family law, Australian families and especially children continue to suffer. I'm happy to support this bill, but I want on record just how disappointed I am that it's taken this long for this bill to come before the House.