Family Law Inquiry should be stopped, Law Council of Australia

Family Law Inquiry should be stopped, Law Council of Australia

Lawyers from the Law Council of Australia have raised concerns that the controversial Family Law Inquiry is being used for political gain to undermine domestic violence claims made by women and are calling for the federal parliamentary inquiry to be abandoned.

The Guardian Australia reports that Pauline Wright, LCA president, wrote to the chair of the inquiry, Liberal MP Kevin Andrews, to raise concerns against the ethical consequences of the live broadcast of the hearings by One Nation.

The broadcast permits viewers to post derogatory and offensive comments as they view witness testimonies. These have included ‘bitch’, ‘man-hater’ and ‘dirty-snake’.

The inquiry into the family law system, the third inquiry since 2017, was established to
drive the holistic change required in the family law system”, and despite its controversial status, was initially supported by the Law Council.

President Wright told the Guardian on Wednesday it might put victims at further risk.

“We are now concerned the inquiry is being used for political purposes to undermine domestic violence claims made by women and thereby putting vulnerable families at further risk by inciting hatred and excusing domestic violence,” she said.

“What is of most concern to the Law Council is that some of the evidence given, mainly by women, has been the subject of scorn and denigrating comment on the One Nation Facebook sites.”

In her letter to Kevin Andrews, Wright urges the committee to prohibit broadcasting in the future and remove footage and comments. 

Last week, the only authorised video stream of the federal parliamentary hearings into the family law system was posted on Pauline Hanson’s Facebook page. The live-streaming footage was shot by Hanson’s aide and One Nation Queensland executive member James Ashby. 

Several groups have expressed their concerns regarding the direction the inquiry has now taken, including Angela Lynch from the Women’s Legal Service Queensland, who told the Guardian the process is “potentially dangerous.”

“The issue is that there’s a level of urgency now,” she said. “In the light of the Hannah Clarke murder, that really illustrates the danger that children and women are in. It’s not something that can wait. It’s that urgency that’s driving us at the moment.”

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