JG - Controversial Maintenance Bill passed
published: Monday October 31, 2005
Dionne Rose, Staff Reporter
AFTER SIX weeks of heated debate, the Senate passed the controversial Maintenance Bill, which will see women equally responsible for the maintenance of their spouses, on Friday. The bill was passed unopposed with eight amendments. However, the passage of the legislation was a stormy affair, with the Opposition attempting to stall the vote.
Opposition Senators Anthony Johnson and Shirley Williams argued that they were of the impression that relevant stakeholders would have had their input on the amendments as promised by Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, A.J. Nicholson, two weeks ago.
"We, fortunately, have minutes and we, fortunately, have memories. There was an issue as to the medium to be used to gain public opinion," said the Leader of Opposition Business, Senator Johnson. "And I asked: 'How do you propose to gain feedback from the public?' and your response was ... that those matters would be dealt with by a meeting of the leaders."
Senator Johnson said he never met with Leader of Government Business Senator Burchell Whiteman.
But Senator Nicholson ignored the objection and asked that the bill go through committee stage.
However, Senator Williams halted the proceedings and insisted that Hansard be consulted to review the commitments given by Senator Nicholson.
The minutes were subsequently consulted but, with the findings favouring the Government, the legislation was eventually passed.