‘You disgust me’: Lambie blasts plan

 

Jacqui Lambie has blasted Attorney-General Christian Porter as "disgusting" as she warned a government plan to alter the court system would cause suicide to spike and families to struggle for justice.

The Coalition has pushed ahead with its controversial plan to merge the Family and Federal Circuit Courts, arguing a single entry point would make the system easier to navigate.

But critics warn the system is already stretched by a backlog of cases, a problem they argue will be exacerbated by the merger.

Ms Lambie lashed the plan as a "new low for the Coalition", saying it would simply bring "more hurt and more misery" to people in the family justice system.

"If you think the heartache (and) the suicides that are going on out there right now is bad enough, if you've got half a conscience over that side, wait until you see what's coming," she told the Senate on Wednesday.

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Jacqui Lambie has blasted the plan as a ‘new low for the Coalition’. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Gary Ramage
Jacqui Lambie has blasted the plan as a ‘new low for the Coalition’. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Gary Ramage

"It is a train wreck in action. What is wrong with you people? You are playing with people's lives."

Ms Lambie warned Federal Circuit Court judges were already forced to churn through cases like "they're on a production line", some dealing with 70 before 10am.

"We're asking judges to work like they're someone in a burger joint … rushing about to get your orders filled and out the door as fast as possible," she said.

"How is that justice? How does that bring any Australian justice, let alone Australian families?"

She demanded Attorney-General Christian Porter "put his money where his mouth is and resource" family courts, which were chronically underfunded.

"I hope you can wear it, mate, because you're going to see a lot more hurt going on in these families, and more suicides going on," she said.

"I hope you can sleep in the night time. Quite frankly, you disgust me."

Despite Ms Lambie's intervention, the bill was expected to pass after the government secured the support of key crossbencher Rex Patrick.

He said the bill preserved all jurisdictions while creating a more efficient process benefiting families and the taxpayer.

Critics say the merger would put family violence victims at greater risk.
Critics say the merger would put family violence victims at greater risk.

"I would urge people to look at the new arrangements with an open mind. I am confident that they will be of real benefit to everyone who engages with Australia's family law system," he said.

Mr Patrick agreed to back the deal after receiving assurances from the government there would be a minimum of 25 specialist family law judges.

He said under current rules, that number could be allowed to drop to zero.

But the Law Council of Australia warned the bill would "collapse the Family Court into the generalist, chronically under-resourced and overburdened" replacement.

Former chief justice Elizabeth Evatt warned specialised judges were particularly important to deal with a rising number of family violence complaints.

"(There is) an even greater need today for family law jurisdiction to be vested exclusively in specialised judges who can give their full attention to the needs of family law clients," she said.

"The current bill undermines this principle, is not in the public interest and should not be enacted."

Originally published as 'You disgust me': Lambie blasts plan

Independent senator Rex Patrick has backed the plan. Picture: Mick Tsikas / AAP Image
Independent senator Rex Patrick has backed the plan. Picture: Mick Tsikas / AAP Image

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