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ACT Aims to End Secret Injustice in Family Courts

ACT Aims to End Secret Injustice in Family Courts

Monday 13th Nov 2000 Stephen Franks Media Release -- Justice

ACT Justice Spokesman Stephen Franks said his success in the ballot of a member’s bill which promotes open justice in Family Courts is extremely timely.

“Tomorrow the Government’s Relationship Property Bill goes before Parliament for its second reading. This legislation, which the Government is determined to rush through regardless will lead to a very big increase in Family Court cases.

“Presently, fashionable judicial theory, ideology and even disregard of the law can flourish and hide behind secrecy in the Family Courts, so I was delighted that I was able to ensure that ACT Social Welfare Spokesman Muriel Newman’s bill was drawn in the ballot. She has worked tirelessly in this area to do something about the injustices that she has seen.

“I’m now happy to assign the conduct of the bill through the House to Dr Newman, but am delighted to be associated with it,” Mr Franks said.

Dr Newman said that at the moment the Family Court operates like a secret society. “It pits family member against family member in an environment free from public scrutiny. The stories of injustice are widespread.

“The Family Court (Openness of Proceedings) Bill changes the presumption o f the Family Court from closed to open, while at the same time leaving judges with the power to declare the court closed in special circumstances. This move parallels changes made to the select committees of Parliament, which used to be closed to the public, but which are now open unless the chairman declares otherwise.

“When my Shared Parenting Bill was before Parliament earlier this year I encountered some inexcusable injustices.

“If this bill is supported to a select committee, many of the people who have suffered such injustices will have an opportunity to share their concerns and advise on the improvements to Family Law practices that need to be made,” Dr Newman said.


For more information visit ACT online at or contact the ACT Parliamentary Office at

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