New Family Court Merger Bill introduced in Parliament
Yesterday, on 5 December 2019, The Honourable Christian Porter, Commonwealth Attorney-General, announced he will be introducing the bill to merge the Federal Circuit Court and Family Court of Australia into Parliament.
In a media release entitled "Court reforms to deliver better outcomes for families", it was said that the merger will help reduce delays and backlogs in the family law courts and remove the unnecessary confusion, duplication and additional costs that have plagued the existing dual court system for decades.
In 2018, the 'Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia Bill 2018' was rejected by Parliament. due to the largely negative response from legal authorities and organisations who called the Bill 'deeply flawed'. The peak body for the legal profession, the Law Council of Australia, had been vocal in its opposition to the merger, arguing families were better off with a specialised Family Court.
These concerns have not yet been addressed. Additionally, there has still been no official response from the Government in regards to the Australian Law Reform Commission's Family Law Inquiry. This report recommended that family law jurisdiction be returned to the state courts in an attempt to encourage information sharing. Although these recommendations have not yet been addressed, Prime Minister Scott Morrison has approved yet another inquiry into the family law system to look at whether the current system, which is intended to support parents and children during the end of a relationship, is fit for purpose.