SENATOR KATY GALLAGHER
ACTING SHADOW ATTORNEY-GENERAL
SHADOW MINISTER FOR SMALL BUSINESS AND FINANCIAL SERVICES
SENATOR FOR THE AUSTRALIAN CAPITAL TERRITORY
TERRI BUTLER MP
SHADOW ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR PREVENTING FAMILY VIOLENCE
SHADOW ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR UNIVERSITIES
SHADOW ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR EQUALITY
MEMBER FOR GRIFFITH
TURNBULL GOVERNMENT CROSS-EXAMINATION REFORM IS UNFUNDED AND INADEQUATE
The Turnbull's government's exposure draft amendments for family law cross-examination reform are inadequate and appear to remain unfunded.
More than three years after the Productivity Commission’s 2014 recommendation to stop alleged domestic violence perpetrators from personally cross-examining their victims, the government has finally released a draft of the legislative amendments to the Family Law Act 1975.
These amendments to the Family Law Act 1975 are welcome, but they are inadequate.
“The government has today squibbed on its commitment to prevent perpetrators of domestic violence from asking harassing, intimidating or abusive questions in family law proceedings,” Ms Butler said.
“Instead of asking the questions themselves, they will just slip a note to an unqualified spokesperson, who would then ask the questions on their behalf.
“This is a far cry from requiring the court to consider requiring abusers to be legally represented so that a person with ethical obligations, duties as an officer of the court, and requirements to act professionally, stands between the abuser and the victim.
"The government is yet to commit any additional funding to pay for this measure. No money for additional legal representation, and not even any funding for the lay people they intend will ask questions as proxies for accused abusers,” Ms Butler said.
“You cannot properly reform cross-examination, to protect victims and survivors of family violence, without additional funding for Legal Aid, to assist unrepresented litigants - both those accused of perpetrating violence, and their alleged victims,” Ms Gallagher said.
“The people before the court must have natural justice. How will the government guarantee they'll get it, given the unfunded and inadequate nature of these reforms?”
"The Turnbull government must commit to additional funding for legal aid in order to properly reform the way that violence victims are treated in court.
"Earlier this year, Labor recommitted to its election policy to provide more than $40 million to genuinely reform cross examination in the interest of victims and survivors of family violence,” Ms Gallagher said.
MONDAY 17 JULY 2017