Wednesday, 30 November 2016
Statutes Amendment (Surrogacy Eligibility) Bill
The Hon. K.L. VINCENT: Can I just say that I support the bill.
The Hon. G.E. GAGO: I rise today to make a short contribution to this bill. The reality is that many same-sex couples have children. Sometimes they have children from a former relationship and sometimes they attempt conception within their own relationship, through surrogacy and artificial insemination. At present, these arrangements are not recognised under the law of this state and that raises all sorts of problems and issues for these couples and their children.
The most important issue is that it denies the children of these relationships the protection of law. We have heard much of late from various members about the protection of children. I am assured that this will mean that many will therefore see the importance of supporting this bill. I am pleased that they have indicated support so far in this place. When the law does not recognise the parental status of those who are raising a child, it does not just insult the equality for that same-sex couple but it potentially jeopardises the interests of that child. Every child deserves the certainty of having parents who cannot be arbitrarily denied by law. Anyone who is in favour of supporting families and parents should be in favour of this bill.
The bill makes three important changes that will, firstly, ensure that the rules for altruistic surrogacy will no longer discriminate against the children of same-sex couples, and secondly, ensure that no-one will be discriminated against because they are a child of a same-sex couple, and thirdly, allow intending same-sex parents to obtain access to reproductive services so that they do not have to go interstate or jeopardise their health in that natural human desire, as it is for many, to become a parent. As a long-time campaigner for equality, I give my wholehearted support for this bill and commend those who have worked to pass it through this parliament and those who have indicated support for it.
The Hon. J.A. DARLEY: I rise very briefly to indicate my support for this bill which will remove discrimination against same-sex couples who want to enter into an altruistic surrogacy agreement. Currently, only heterosexual couples are able to enter into a surrogacy agreement. With that, I support the bill.
The Hon. R.L. BROKENSHIRE: In the past when legislation regarding surrogacy has been put up by the Hon. John Dawkins, who has pushed the principles of surrogacy for what I believe to be the right reasons, we have supported it, and there have been changes in the South Australian parliament and, therefore, legislation when it comes to surrogacy. Clearly, Family First supported some general principles that the Hon. John Dawkins has been pushing around surrogacy, but this goes quite a significant step further.
In fact, there were two key issues in this. I note and support the member for Little Para, Mr Lee Odenwalder, who moved an amendment excluding a single person from being a commissioning parent to obtain a surrogate child. The lower house divided on that amendment to remove a single person’s eligibility to access surrogacy, and the absolute majority of 35 out of 47 potential votes supported that amendment. I can see why the honourable member in another place moved that amendment and why the majority of those members supported that amendment.
The key that concerns Family First with this is that this particular amendment bill, the Statutes Amendment (Surrogacy Eligibility) Bill—the key word being ‘eligibility’—is one of two bills, the other being the Relationships Register (No. 1) Bill, which originally made up the Relationships Register Bill as was introduced in the lower house. The original Relationships Register Bill was split into two bills during committee stage, and this is the second bill dealt with and passed by the House of Assembly. It is made up of three key clauses contained in the original bill: schedule 1, part 2, clause 2; part 5 clause 5, subclause 4; and part 6, clauses 21 to 27.
Family First has real concerns about part 6, and that is schedule 1, part 6, clauses 21 to 27, which is now part 4 of the new bill which is the bill we are debating at the moment. It makes a variety of changes to the Family Relationships Act 1975 in relation to surrogacy. It also makes the changes to surrogacy via amendment to the act so that same-sex couples can become commissioning parents in terms of applying for a recognised surrogacy agreement.
That, to us, is of real concern. We cannot support that, we do not agree with that aspect of this, and we will be opposing that as we proceed through committee. We also will be keen, I understand, to see some amendments that may come up from one of the other members, and we will need time to consider those amendments once they are tabled. Whilst there is some argument for where the legislation is at the moment regarding surrogacy, in our opinion there is no argument for allowing same-sex couples to be commissioning parents in a surrogacy agreement, and we will be opposing that particular aspect.
The Hon. K.L. VINCENT: I have done my speech; I simply wanted to say that I support the bill.
Debate adjourned on motion of Hon. T.J. Stephens .