Adoption (Review) Amendment Bill

06 Dec 2016 newsspeechparliament

Second Reading: adjourned debate on second reading (continued from 1 December 2016).

Second Reading

Adjourned debate on second reading.

(Continued from 1 December 2016.)

The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK ( 11:17 :04 ): I rise to make some brief remarks in relation to this bill. My colleague the Hon. Stephen Wade provided the Liberal Party position on the parts which are not a conscience vote for honourable members. Having read through a range of material on this matter, I think adoption certainly is an area that we all understand has been fraught for many years. Clearly, the best interests of the child were not always considered in the past and a number of changes were made. I will not go through all of those again because I think they have been more than adequately covered.

I was pleased to read in the report of Professor Lorna Hallahan that the matter of people's identity was given significant consideration. I think this is something that probably has been overlooked in the past. The paternalistic attitude of authorities has been that certain people under their particular circumstances, and perhaps their relationship status, would not provide the sort of home that good folk might think is in the best interests of the child, yet identity is one of the areas that needs to be given very significant consideration. I think a lot of people go through searches for their heritage. I have seen that amongst many people who start researching their family history and so forth in many areas and it is a very important consideration.

Clearly, the primary consideration needs to be the best interests of the child and, in the first instance, matters of safety must be absolutely paramount. It is a complicated area and there has been some debate particularly on the conscience matter of whether same-sex couples are appropriate parents, to which I would say that they clearly are.

We have had this highlighted through a couple who live not far from me in the Adelaide Hills, Shaun and Blue Douglas-Galley, who adopted children from their birth country in the UK. They arrived in Australia in October 2013 and have not been able to be legally recognised under our law because of our particular laws here. I commend them for being public about their situation which must be very difficult for them.

In reality, there are not a lot of children available for adoption. I think the member for Hammond outlined that in his contribution about the process. It is certainly something that my husband and I looked into and, having been through three years of IVF, we decided that was not going to be the route we chose to take because it would have been more trauma on top of the IVF, with the waiting periods and so forth. Also, because of our advanced age, we would not have qualified for some of the overseas countries.

I was disappointed to see that the House of Assembly made it more difficult for single people to adopt. The reality in a lot of the adoptions by single people would be that they would be people who have been caring for those children for some time in any case, and I think that is very disappointing that that is not in this legislation.

The member for Waite's comments just blew me away, and I cannot let them go by without responding to them in some way, that there is no nice, easy and convenient path for single people who find it an inconvenience to get into a relationship. I think he needs perhaps to spend more time with some of his constituents to discover that the reality of life these days is quite different. It has spawned a whole range of TV series which are well watched in the popular culture, be it Girls or Sex and the City and a whole range of things, which explain what modern life is like for a lot of people in single relationships.

Having been one of those people for some time, we do not appreciate the smug commentary from people in straight relationships with children judging those of us who might not have been in those relationships, nor does the gay community appreciate that sort of smug judgement, thank you very much. With those remarks, I indicate that I will be supporting the substantive bill but also the conscience elements.