On this week’s podcast episode I talked about contacting our local member of parliament to request a change to the Marriage Act of 1961.

The act requires two official certificates of marriage be prepared, which in a digital age where we’re creating PDF certificates, is a little redundant.

I’m also calling for the old school requirement for the declaration to be “on the reverse side” of the certificate, only because a PDF does not have sides.

So here’s a letter you can amend to your personal details and email off to your local Member of Parliament because that’s how we change the world.

The letter

Your letterhead


Addressed to your local member of parliament

My name is … and I am a Commonwealth Authorised Marriage Celebrant in your electorate, I reside at…

In my role as a marriage celebrant I spend a lot of time working within the confines of the Marriage Act of 1961, and although there has been some extremely positive change in the last two years regarding that legislation, there remains a slight administrative problem.

The current Section 50 of the Marriage Act is an extra administrative burden on Authorised Celebrants, and given this government’s agenda to reduce regulation, I would offer that removal of these two conditions to the solemnisation of a marriage would go some way to ease that regulation.

The first piece of legislation is the Marriage Act of 1961 Section 50 Part 1b “Where an authorised celebrant solemnises a marriage … the authorised celebrant shall prepare 2 official certificates of the marriage.”

The modern marriage celebrant is submitting marriage paperwork to their state BDM electronically, and retaining the PDFs they submit, plus many of us are signing the paperwork digitally on a computer tablet, so a second official certificate of marriage is no longer required. For further information on this, the Attorney-General’s department has issued a fact sheet titled “Authorised celebrant obligations in an online environment”.

I propose that Section 50 Part 1b be simply removed.

The second piece of legislation is the Marriage Act of 1961 Section 50 Part 3 where it states “One of the official certificates or the official certificate, as the case may be, shall be on the reverse side of the paper bearing the declarations made by the parties under section 42.”

In an online environment the “reverse side of the paper bearing declarations” is not something that really exists. A PDF cannot have a reverse side.

Given that the Attorney-General’s office has acknowledged the Electronic Transaction Act 1999 and it’s implications on the paperwork surrounding marriage solemnisation, I propose that these two elements of the Marriage Act are redundant legislation, unnecessary regulation, and an inhibitor to marriage celebrants operating in an online environment.


Commonwealth Civil Marriage Celebrant