Michelle Lensink

Reproductive Technology (Clinical Practices) (Miscellaneous) Amendment Bill

This speech is to indicate support for the second reading of the Reproductive Technology (Clinical Practices) (Miscellaneous) Amendment Bill.

Adjourned debate on second reading.

(Continued from 5 March 2009. Page 1560.)

The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK (17:23): I rise to address the second reading of this bill. I am in the curious position that I do not necessarily represent the views of my colleagues on this side of the council, because this bill is a conscience matter for Liberals.

This is a bill to amend the Reproductive Technology (Clinical Practices) Act 1988. In many ways, there are a number of aspects of it which are quite technical and relate to the modernising of the current provisions. There will be aspects of it that some people will find unpalatable. There are amendments about which I think members will have various views, and I look forward to the committee stage of the debate. I indicate that I will consider all the amendments very carefully.

Broadly speaking, this bill relates to updating competition issues and bringing into line some of the language that reflects more modern practices. In her second reading speech in another place, the member for Bragg outlined quite extensively that this bill is quite overdue for a couple of reasons. The first is that the government was caught napping in relation to ensuring that it complied with competition provisions. The member outlined that in quite some detail. She went to the trouble of writing to the competition bodies, and so forth.

I will not repeat all those details, but I commend her for her efforts in attempting to ensure that South Australia was compliant with the legislation. She did not really have much luck in terms of some of the state institutions 'fessing up about whether they were or were not. I note that this bill will bring us in lineā€”and also in relation to a private member's bill that the member introduced, which was highlighted by the Sheree Blake case. Members would be aware of the lady whose husband had passed away and there was sperm available, with her husband's permission, which she was unable to access to become pregnant (and I note that the government has put that in this bill without giving credit where credit is due).

There are a number of technical aspects with respect to this legislation. I note that the bill is not particularly large, in terms of the number of clauses, but there are a couple of sets of regulations that assist in guiding clinical practice and codes, those being the Reproductive Technology Code of Ethical Clinical Practice Regulations 1995 and another regulation, which is quite extensive. They relate to NHMRC guidelines, and so forth. This bill will bring us into line with some of those federal regulations and ensure that we are consistent with national standards and guidelines and that we comply with national competition principles and eligibility requirements and will make allowances for new treatments and so forth.

I note that many of these changes have been recommended by the South Australian Council on Reproductive Technology, which is to be dismantled under this scheme, and I place on the record the thanks of the South Australian community for its work over many years in what is at times a difficult issue for many people.

There is also the modernisation of language, in terms of some of the definitions, which more accurately reflects common practice and commonly referred to terms and so forth. I do not propose to speak to those in a great deal of detail.

I also acknowledge the letters that we have received from donor conceived offspring, who have been quite distressed about the current situation, where they are unable to access information about who their donors may have been, which I think is a fairly vexed issue for many people. Some people would wish for those details to be revealed and some would say that, were it known at the time that that information would be revealed, people may not have become donors. I think that is a particularly vexed issue.

I do not believe I have seen any amendments to that effect in this bill. I have stated that it really looks at many of the compliance and technical issues in relation to assisted reproductive technology, which is a practice which I think has become much more accepted. At the time of the passing of the original legislation, it would have occupied the conscience of many members of our parliament in deciding whether or not they would agree to it.

Overall, it has been a benefit for our community and it is a service that many couples seek to avail themselves of in order to have a family. It is something that people generally support. With those brief remarks, I indicate support for the second reading and look forward to the committee stage of the debate.

Debate adjourned on motion of Hon. B.V. Finnigan.

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