Attorney-General George Brandis insists a root-and-branch review of the family law system is not to appease Pauline Hanson.
The One Nation leader has been taking credit for the government announcement, saying no one was interested in dealing with the issue until she “hounded” Senator Brandis.
The minister disagrees.
“It is something I have wanted to do for quite some time, going back to before Senator Hanson was a member of parliament,” he told ABC TV on Thursday.
Senator Brandis did acknowledge he has had useful and constructive conversations with Senator Hanson on the issue.
But he says the first review in 40 years has nothing to do with the upcoming Queensland state election, which her party is contesting.
“We announced this in the budget in May,” he said.
“We have been in close consultation with the sector, with practitioners, judges, with other stakeholders … to develop these terms of reference and as a result of that very extensive consultation, the terms of reference were published yesterday.”
Senator Hanson was still celebrating it as a win on Thursday, saying she raised the matter with the prime minister during her first meeting with him.
“It is so important to get this right,” she told the Seven Network.
Senator Hanson hopes people will come forward with their own stories and that money can be found for more registrars to handle lighter matters, while judges take care of larger cases.
The review, to be led by the Australian Law Reform Commission, will begin next week.
Its terms of reference are broad but will focus on making sure the family law system prioritises the best interests of children, best addresses family violence and child abuse, supports families and allows disputes to be resolved quickly and safely with minimal financial burden.
Labor MP Emma Husar, who has her own experience with family violence and the legal system, says the priority should be to appoint more judges and replace retiring ones.
“Right now immediately we have a huge backlog,” she told Sky News.
“You could actually conduct the review but alongside that we could be taking some steps now to reduce the pressure.”