journed debate on second reading.
(Continued from 29 October 2019.)
The Hon. C. BONAROS (11:02): I rise to speak in support of the Surrogacy Bill, which I note is a conscience vote for our party and other parties. The best role I have ever had is that of mum to my little boy. He came later in life and is all that much more loved because of it. I can only imagine the heartache that many people feel in not being able to be parents, despite desperately wanting a child to love, protect and raise. I empathise with them and trust that the bill will provide another path to parenthood for those who are able to pursue altruistic surrogacy.
At the outset, I want to thank the Hon. John Dawkins for his tireless work in this area. He has demonstrated impeccable strength, tenacity and resolve in advocating on the issue of surrogacy for many, many years. It is wonderful to see the results of that work in this bill. The Hon. John Dawkins first took up the issue some 14 years ago, as I understand. The first private members' bill was examined by the Social Development Committee and resulted in a revised bill presented in 2008. Despite long delays, it passed the House of Assembly in 2009.
In 2015, the honourable member brought in another bill dealing with surrogacy, in response to emerging issues surrounding surrogacy here and abroad, and with the assistance of the Hon. Ian Hunter a compromise bill was passed in this chamber. The Hon. John Dawkins' commitment to this issue stands as an inspiring example of advocating for what you believe in and never wavering, while others around you catch up.
I also want to thank SALRI for its analysis of existing legislation with respect to surrogacy, after it was tasked to do so by the former attorney-general, John Rau. It is SALRI's research, consultation and ultimate recommendations which form the backbone for this bill. As members would know, the bill retains the basic structure of the current scheme operating in South Australia but for the first time is a standalone bill that makes significant changes to surrogacy laws. It provides a framework for the creation of lawful or altruistic surrogacy agreements and sets out what is considered to be a lawful surrogacy arrangement.
A lawful surrogacy arrangement is unenforceable except for its financial arrangements. However, the intending parents may, by application to the Youth Court, apply for transfer of parentage of the child. Importantly, the bill establishes a number of crucial safeguards for those entering into surrogacy agreements. Consistent with the current scheme, the paramount consideration will be the best interests of the child born as a result of the surrogacy arrangement, and I will turn to that paramountcy principle a little later.
We know the bill will provide the birth mother with rights. The transfer can only occur with consent. The bill will increase the age required of parties to a surrogacy agreement from 18 to 25 years, make a clearer provision for compensating surrogates for loss of income, provide less complexity with fertility requirements and implement the SALRI recommendations of accommodating cross-jurisdictional service provisions.
It provides for all parties to be provided with counselling services so that they can fully and independently consider the implications of the arrangement and make a fully informed decision. It expands on the cohort of people who can be intending parents, including same-sex couples, to finally include them as single individuals. It creates an offence of advertising for commercial surrogacy services or advertising willingness to enter into a commercial surrogacy arrangement, and it creates an offence with the effect that commercial surrogacy arrangements are illegal and those entering those sorts of arrangements will attract the maximum penalty of 12 months' imprisonment.
I have to say, in relation to that last point, I do have some concerns as to how the bill will be implemented in reality with respect to intending parents if the paramountcy principle is to be upheld. Placing a child's parent in prison for 12 months for having entered into a commercial surrogacy arrangement I do not think is in the child's best interests, so I think that is one aspect of the legislation that we ought to be monitoring closely. Providing the penalty is one thing, acting as a deterrent, but if indeed it does turn out that those sorts of arrangements are being entered into, then I think that is something we will need to consider in the context of the best interests of the child in question in any particular case.
On that point, it is just and appropriate that commercial surrogacy continue to be illegal. It is my view and the view of many academics and I am sure the view of many here that commercial surrogacy involves the commodification of both mothers and babies. The Hon. Irene Pnevmatikos highlighted several examples of commercial surrogacy occurring in overseas jurisdictions which resulted in poor antenatal care, poor birth outcomes and poor post-birth care for the surrogate.
I am familiar personally with an instance, after the changes to our immigration laws, that saw a family from Adelaide struggle to have a surrogate child brought to Australia because of the changes that we had here in our laws. I witnessed the anguish they went through after having gone down the path of finding a surrogate, going through a perfectly healthy pregnancy and a baby being born as the product of that, only to have difficulties in actually then bringing that child to Australia. I know the anguish they went through was tremendous. Luckily, it turned out well for them, but I think the point is that these things do not always turn out well. It also gives rise to issues of how we are treating women in other countries who are putting themselves in the position of acting as surrogates.
The bill gives the surrogate complete control over the entire process, which is just and reasonable, but the risk remains, which needs to be highlighted, that the surrogate mother may not relinquish the child to the intending parents or indeed that the intending parents do not want the child. These are very difficult scenarios to imagine, but I think it is important to note that they may occur, even in the rarest of cases.
There is much to applaud in this bill and, again, I thank all of those involved for their work. It has certainly taken a long time to get here. However, I note that there is also another outstanding issue which I have flagged, that of a donor conception register for South Australia for the many donor conceived people who desperately need it. In the last sitting week of parliament, we passed a private member's bill in this place that recognised the crucial nexus between record keeping and the health of children born through donor conception.
While the bill had the support of the entire crossbench and the opposition, sadly the government did not support it, despite supporting its intent, and regrettably choosing not to engage with me on the bill when issues of time frames could have been easily cured. I remain deeply concerned that, despite the will of this chamber, that bill will not see the light of day in the other place. It is for that reason that I foreshadowed some amendments to this bill which would mandate the establishment of a donor conception register in South Australia by the minister.
At the very least, what I think we need to do, given that we are dealing with this bill as a conscience vote, is to force a conscience vote on the issue of a register for assisted reproductive technology. That is the intention of those amendments. I thank the Hon. Irene Pnevmatikos for her comments during her second reading contribution to the bill, and also to the Surrogacy Bill, in terms of the importance of establishing and maintaining a donor conception register.
I note that the Hon. John Dawkins made reference in his contribution the other day that he had only just become aware of my amendments. They were filed on Tuesday of last week and were subsequently refiled yesterday in a streamlined form so as to only proceed with the amendment requiring the minister to establish a donor conception register—nothing more. The only requirement will be, and the only impact of those amendments will be, that the minister establish a register. What happens from there is completely and utterly in the minister' hands and, in fact, in the government's hands. I thank the Clerk for his diligence in assessing the amendments and providing advice to the same.
I want to refer to some of the comments that were made in relation to the delays with this bill. Again, the Hon. John Dawkins spoke in his contribution of not delaying the bill because biological clocks are ticking. I could not agree more that biological clocks are ticking but I have to say there are a number of ticking time bombs in donor conceived people in this state who are carrying hereditary diseases they do not know about because they cannot access information about their donor parentage in the absence of a centralised donor conception register.
The Assisted Reproductive Treatment Act 1988 and the Surrogacy Bill both speak of the paramountcy principle that the best interests of the child are the paramount consideration. If we are truly genuine about giving effect to that paramountcy principle, we must set up a donor conception register because donor conceived people have also waited long enough.
Dr Sonia Allan has already provided us with the blueprint for the lowest cost model. She has described the current situation as a lottery determined by the time and place of the gamete donation or ART donation conception. It is, in my view, quite perverse that some third parties can see information sought by donor conceived people but are then able to withhold such information from the person who is impacted the most. Decades are passing for donor conceived children, and donor parents are dying never being able to meet their offspring if, indeed, that is their intention.
At the forum on the establishment of the donor conception register in the last week of sitting, there was not a dry eye in the house. Two donor conceived people had the courage to talk about their personal and very agonising stories. I was disappointed that we did not have any representation at the forum by the government because I thought it was an opportunity by the government to hear directly from those experts in the know but also from the very individuals who are so harshly impacted by the lack of a register in South Australia.
Katharine Dawson-Vowels spoke of her tortuous journey. She was conceived in Victoria, where she is able to gain access to VARTA, the standalone Victorian register, and she knows that her donor illegally donated to multiple clinics and that she may have up to 60 half-siblings that she does not know about—60 half-siblings. She knows that her donor has a mental disorder that may present in her or in her children one day. She also knows of two siblings in Victoria and of two siblings in South Australia, as her donor father's sperm was transferred illegally across the border. This is in excess of 65 half-siblings belonging to one person.
She found a half-sibling in South Australia by chance at a forum, as they looked almost identical. The perverse nature of the lack of a donor conception register has meant that in Katharine's case her half-sibling is not allowed to find out the information that Katharine was able to access through VARTA in Victoria, because her half-sibling was born in SA. It really does make for tragic reading. They are heartbreaking stories and I cannot think of anyone who would be able to sit through and listen to the stories of Katharine or Reese or Damien and not be moved or touched by them, but also not want to do something about it, and that is what we have been trying to achieve.
Again, I appreciate the urgency in terms of proceeding with the bill. It is not my intention whatsoever to hold this bill up, but it is my intention to try to make this a conscience vote issue, not only for this chamber but for the other chamber, so that we can get a clear picture of where the government sits in relation to the establishment of an assisted reproductive technology register.
I make the point again that the amendments are limited to requiring the minister to establish a register. They do no more than that. The rest of that scheme will be completely in the government's hands. At the appropriate juncture, it is my intention, since we are considering a streamlining of surrogacy legislation that will make it easier for children to be born, oftentimes using donor gametes, that it is just and reasonable to consider equally the establishment of a donor conception register.
The PRESIDENT: The Hon. Ms Bonaros, do you have more to contribute to the second reading?
The Hon. C. BONAROS: I have finished.
The Hon. C.M. SCRIVEN (11:18): I think the issue of surrogacy is indeed very complicated. The heartbreak of infertile couples is hard for anyone to hear and hard for anyone to bear. The Hon. Ms Bonaros has outlined the complexity of the implications of surrogacy for those people who, for example, find that they have 60 or 65 half-siblings.
I have received a number of items of correspondence about this issue, with various types of arguments in favour of or against this bill. Some of those include a concern that surrogacy makes children a product that the proposed or intending parents have a right to. Another concern is that it potentially disconnects the child from one or both of their biological parents and deliberately denies the child's right to be brought up by their actual biological parents, or is a deliberate choice to raise children by single parents. I point out that the person who wrote this stated:
It doesn't for a moment suggest that many single parents cannot and do not do a wonderful job of raising children. The difference is that most single parents have not chosen single parenthood; instead, it has come about through circumstance, such as a breakdown in a relationship, death of their spouse, or similar circumstances that were not sought.
In contrast, they say surrogacy as a means of creating a baby for a single person is deliberately intending that that child will have only one parent. On the other hand, the pain experienced by infertile couples is very real. The difficulties that couples have who are facing that circumstance is very real. Two other objections were made, one being that children are not commodities, and this person had the view that that was what was encouraged by surrogacy; and the final one was a feminist objection, saying that women are not baby-making machines and therefore should not be treated as such through surrogacy.
On the other hand, we need to face the fact that we have an existing situation of surrogacy and, in my view, this bill does make some improvements to the existing situation. I had a number of questions in regard to allowable costs which were not adequately answered at the briefing, nor in the follow-up information, and I will be asking for more information about that in this place. I think the information that the child has a right to know about their genetic parentage in terms of the points that the Hon. Ms Bonaros made are very valid and we should consider that very seriously when we are looking at the donor conception register.
One of the main parts of this which I think is worthy of note is that it insists that the best interests of the child must be paramount. Any bill that we look at in regard to the creation of children through things like surrogacy must ensure that the best interests of the child are paramount, and so that is certainly an advantage of this bill. As mentioned, I have a number of questions to ask at the committee stage which will inform the way that I ultimately vote on this bill, and I look forward to some further debate on those.
The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK (Minister for Human Services) (11:22): I appreciate all the contributions that honourable members have made and look forward to the committee stage of the debate.
Bill read a second time.
The Hon. C. BONAROS (11:23): I move contingent notice of motion No. 2 standing in my name:
That it be an instruction of the committee of the whole on the bill that it have power to consider additional amendments to the Assisted Reproductive Treatment Act 1988 relating to the donor conception register.
The PRESIDENT: For the benefit of honourable members, the motion has been moved in accordance with standing order 422. As I understand it, and with some guidance from the Clerk, the clause that the Hon. Ms Bonaros is seeking for the committee of the whole to consider is related to the bill that is currently before the council but not in the order of reference of the bill; therefore, an instruction is required to give authority to the committee to consider this provision.
I think the provision seeks to amend the Assisted Reproductive Treatment Act and, whilst that is in the title, this clause, as I said, goes beyond the order of reference of the original bill. Members are entitled to speak on the motion. In other words, we can have a debate on this motion. As President, it would assist me if members could indicate their view, but it is not obligatory.
The Hon. C. BONAROS: I am simply going to refer to what I have just said in my second reading speech; that is, the amendment that I am proposing seeks to require the minister to establish a donor and to keep a donor conception register. It does nothing more than that. The legislation, as it currently reads, states that the minister may establish a register, or words to that effect. We have seen for a very long time that that has not actually occurred, so the intent of this amendment is to replace the word 'may' with 'must', in line with the bill that I moved in this place in the last sitting week, and make it a requirement that the minister keep the donor conception register.
The reasons for that have already been outlined. It is not my intention to hold up this bill, but it certainly is my intention to get an indication of where all government members sit in relation to this issue. I would say to my colleagues opposite, given the importance of what we are dealing with in this bill, that I am certainly hoping that, in this chamber and in the other chamber, individuals will be able to vote according to their conscience and that it will not go beyond that in terms of leading to any other sorts of delays in regard to the passage of this legislation.
However, I do think it is important, for the reasons that I have already outlined, that consideration be given to the requirement to establish a donor conception register. The rules around that will rest entirely with the minister. Everything will be in the government's hand as to how that occurs, but it will certainly now become a requirement that it be done, and that is what we are seeking to achieve.
The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK (Minister for Human Services) (11:26): I rise to speak on behalf of the government, in particular on behalf of the Minister for Health and Wellbeing. The effect of this motion is to amend, through the bill, the Assisted Reproductive Treatment Act to require the establishment of a donor conception register. The amendments proposed by the honourable member seek to change the wording in section 15 to read 'must' instead of 'may'. In practice, this would force the Minister for Health and Wellbeing to establish and maintain a donor conception register. As such, it is consistent with the minister's previous comments that the government will not be supporting those amendments.
I think nobody disagrees with many of the comments made about the importance of people being able to identify their parentage, for a whole range of personal and health reasons. There is considerable work required to be undertaken in this space to ensure that the maintenance and provision of information is dealt with holistically and does not overlap with any requirements that already underpin our assisted reproductive services. Minister Wade himself has stated his support for donor conceived people to have access to their genetic history. This is important, as every child deserves to know their heritage.
Currently, a child's access to donor information depends on whether the donor was known or unknown. If the parents used a known donor, they are required to list the donor on the birth registration statement, as per section 14(2) of the Births, Deaths and Marriages Registration Act 1996. This is the case for both clinic and, for want of a better word, do-it-yourself donor insemination and would cover known donors to a surrogacy arrangement.
Section 46(1a) of the Births, Deaths and Marriages Registration Act states that information about the biological parent (or donor) of a child under 18 cannot be released without the permission of the child's legal guardians. Therefore, children under the age of 18 can receive their known donor information with their parents' permission. The donor conceived person can also be provided the official record of their genetic parents when they reach the age of 18. If a donor conceived adult applies for their birth certificate, Births, Deaths and Marriages has a process whereby they issue a standard birth certificate and notify the person that further sensitive information is available.
For anonymous donors, the Assisted Reproductive Treatment Regulations 2010 provide that all ART clinics operating in South Australia must comply with the National Health and Medical Research Council Guidelines, which cover donor conception. These guidelines require the fertility clinic to collect and maintain identifying information and medical history about the donors, which must be provided to any children born from a donor's gametes once they reach the age of 18. The clinic may provide such information to a person under 18 if they determine that the person has sufficient wherewithal.
The PRESIDENT: Before we go on, can I help frame the debate. That is the government's position in relation to the amendment, which will be relevant to the debate itself in committee if this motion passes. I am not commenting on what the minister has said but, for the clarity of the chamber, we are voting on whether we consider this amendment in committee.
If you want it to be considered you would vote in the affirmative, and if you do not want it to be considered you would vote in the negative. I do not want to have a complete debate here about the amendment, although the considerations of the amendment are relevant to your decision. I am not sure I have made that any clearer, but I am doing my best to crystallise it. Minister, is the government's position not to support the motion?
The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: That is correct.
The PRESIDENT: Thank you. The Hon. Mr Dawkins, you were seeking the call?
The Hon. J.S.L. DAWKINS (11:30): Thank you for your advice, Mr President. If this motion proceeds, then I will make some comments at the relevant stage of the committee.
The PRESIDENT: Members will have an opportunity to debate the clause in detail if this motion passes.
The Hon. I.K. HUNTER (11:31): I indicate that I intend to support the Hon. Ms Bonaros's amendment.
The Hon. I. PNEVMATIKOS (11:31): I intend to support Ms Bonaros's amendment.
The Hon. T.A. FRANKS (11:31): For the clarity of the council, although there is some difficulty ascertaining numbers when we have a conscience vote—
The PRESIDENT: That is the burden the President will take.
The Hon. T.A. FRANKS: —I am certainly not averse to debating the issue. My position in support of the minister being compelled is already on record, as is the will of this council to support that. We had other amendments moved in the other place. I am certainly not averse to debating each and every amendment, if deemed relevant by the council, and in this case, with the advice of the Clerk, having provided a procedural way to get to this debate. I will support the debate.
The council divided on the motion:
|Bonaros, C. (teller)||Bourke, E.S.||Franks, T.A.|
|Hanson, J.E.||Hunter, I.K.||Maher, K.J.|
|Pangallo, F.||Parnell, M.C.||Pnevmatikos, I.|
|Scriven, C.M.||Wortley, R.P.|
|Darley, J.A.||Dawkins, J.S.L.||Hood, D.G.E.|
|Lee, J.S.||Lensink, J.M.A. (teller)||Lucas, R.I.|
|Ridgway, D.W.||Stephens, T.J.|
|Ngo, T.T.||Wade, S.G.|
Motion thus carried.
Clauses 1 to 5 passed.
The Hon. C.M. SCRIVEN: I seek clarification as to how clause 6(1), 'The best interests of any child born as a result of a lawful surrogacy agreement is to be the paramount consideration', interacts with 7(1)(a), 'the human rights of all parties to a lawful surrogacy agreement'. I am seeking clarification as to which human rights are being addressed in the second one I mentioned, and how that interacts with the best interests of any child born.
The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: I will attempt to answer it from my understanding of this. In terms of the hierarchy of interests, the child comes first and I think that is inherent in clause 6(1). Also, if the honourable member examines clause 7(3), in relation to the surrogacy principles, which is what clause 7 is about, that subclause explicitly states that clause 6, in the hierarchy of interests, comes first.
The Hon. C.M. SCRIVEN: I am aware of that. I was seeking some clarification as to how in practice they might interact, and I appreciate that will only be an example but just to get a better understanding of the intent of the provisions.
The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: I think the honourable member is seeking some hypotheticals. I think that is possibly dangerous territory because trying to insert hypotheticals in this is not necessarily the real-world situation. It is for the parliament to determine the set of principles and the hierarchy, in which order they are, which I have clarified in my previous response. I am also advised that these particular clauses are consistent with the advice of SALRI.
The Hon. C.M. SCRIVEN: My questions were related, that is why it was clauses 6 and 7. I do not have any further questions on clause 7.
Clauses 7 to 10 passed.
The Hon. E.S. BOURKE: My question is in regard to paragraph (b). As discussed with the minister previously, I want to put on the record that I note the bill provides in clause 11(1)(b) that 'payments representing loss of income of a kind are set out in the regulations'. Yes, they will be done in the regulations, but I would like to put on the record that, considering the principles outlined in the bill are to prohibit commercial surrogacy, I would like to make clear my personal thoughts: a need to reflect this principle when drafting the regulations and put in place protections for all parties, the surrogate mother, the intended parents and the child, which reflect these principles.
While I agree absolutely that it is essential to support the needs and reflect the generosity of a surrogate mother, I also feel we need to ensure that vulnerable intending parents are not placed in a situation where they feel compelled to pay for the loss of work, if this cannot be proven to be for medical purposes, as reflected in the SALRI report, recommendation 53G.
The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: I thank the honourable member for her questions and appreciate her raising these previously so that we had time to provide some consideration. The advice that I have received is that all these matters will be considered through the regulations. I also highlight that clause 10 provides that the agreements must be conducted with both parties having assistance from a lawyer and that the provisions are for reasonable costs, which I understand are things that are—I am going to freelance here; I will get kicked if I am wrong—well understood concepts within the legal framework.
The Hon. C.M. SCRIVEN: At the briefing that was held on the bill, I asked for clarification around paragraph (c) of the clause, which provides:
any other payment of a kind relating to the lawful surrogacy agreement of a kind prescribed by the regulations.
It was undertaken that more information would be provided, as I understood it, of some examples, but the information that was sent through simply repeated that. Could I get some clarification on what type of additional payments would be included under this provision?
The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: The advice I have received is that there is not anything specific at this stage. The next stage from here is to consult with people who are well versed in this area and practice in this area and determine whether there are other areas that have not been identified. So those things will be considered prior to the drafting of the regulations.
The Hon. C.M. SCRIVEN: Thank you for the answer. I would just like to place on the record that I am uncomfortable with a general kind of any-other-payment statement being included in the legislation without any examples of what sort of things might be envisaged by that and notwithstanding that they will be subject to consultation before regulations are proposed, and they can be disallowed. I just want to place on the record my discomfort with that.
Clauses 12 to 22 passed.
The Hon. C. BONAROS: During my second reading contribution I mentioned that I had some concerns about the reality of intending parents entering into a commercial surrogacy arrangement where the outcome is a viable pregnancy, and the paramountcy principle being upheld in those cases. Does the government have any feedback in relation to what it anticipates will happen in scenarios where intending parents enter into a commercial agreement and then there are charges brought before parties, and how that will play out in terms of the paramountcy principle and the child's best interests? Is that something that will be covered in regulation or otherwise to ensure that in those sorts of instances, should they arise, the paramountcy principle will override other considerations?
The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: The advice that I have received is that it would not be appropriate for the parliament to give advice to the prosecuting authorities, such as police and the courts and so forth, but it would be subject to the standard guidelines that they operate under. Part of their consideration is also whether things are in the public interest and a whole range of matters that they would take into consideration.
The Hon. I. PNEVMATIKOS: A further point of clarification on that issue: what is the intention if parties are involved in a commercial surrogacy agreement prior to this legislation, if and when it passes? What is the status of that surrogacy arrangement in terms of the interests of all parties?
The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: The advice I have received is that it is not a retrospective provision, so it will only apply from when the legislation commences.
The Hon. I. PNEVMATIKOS: I appreciate that, but what about instances where the surrogacy agreement has been commenced but not completed and we have new laws in terms of surrogacy?
The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: I can only repeat my previous advice that it is not a retrospective provision and that, in terms of the agreement, it would depend on whether it was factually dependent, if that makes sense to you. You have a law degree, I do not.
The Hon. I. PNEVMATIKOS: Could I indicate that it would be useful that this issue is considered when drafting the regulations and that some of those possibilities be addressed?
The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: Yes, thank you. The honourable member's concerns are noted and will be considered.
The Hon. E.S. BOURKE: I would also like to support those concerns as well.
Clauses 24 to 32 passed.
The Hon. C. BONAROS: I move:
Amendment No 1 [Bonaros–2]—
Page 19, after line 34—Insert:
3A—Amendment of section 15—Donor conception register
(1) Section 15(1)—delete 'The Minister may' and substitute:
The Minister must
(2) Section 15(2)—delete 'If the Minister does keep the donor conception register, the register' and substitute:
The donor conception register
(3) Section 15(8)—delete subsection (8) and substitute:
(8) This section applies in relation to assisted reproductive treatment whether provided before or after the commencement of this section.
I will not speak to this for long, because I think I have already fleshed out the reasons for this amendment, but I would like to bring members' attention to clause 27 of the bill. That is in relation to the provision of information, etc., for the purposes of the Births, Deaths and Marriages Registration Act 1996. It reads:
Except as may be provided for in this Act, nothing in this Act affects the requirement of the parents of a child born as a result of a surrogacy agreement to have the child's birth registered under the Births, Deaths and Marriages Registration Act 1996.
As members would know, the details of anyone who is registered under that act enter a register, which is maintained by Births, Deaths and Marriages. Every birth in this jurisdiction, except for those that relate to donor conceived children, is monitored, maintained and collated through a government established and run register.
I make the point that even in this act, again what this highlights is that there is absolutely no reason why we ought to be creating or maintaining a second-class level of citizens when it comes to donor conceived children. They deserve exactly the same benefit that children born under this bill will be provided by virtue of clause 27.
The Hon. J.S.L. DAWKINS: I had hoped that today would see the conclusion of this legislation, and I am not sure that that will be the case if this amendment goes through, because it then means that it needs to go back to the House of Assembly, and the history of the progress of this legislation in the House of Assembly is not one that gives me fond memories. I hear that there is goodwill about dealing with this, but we do know that in recent weeks people who had never shown any interest in this legislation suddenly showed interest and proceeded to delay its progress, and that is the bottom line for me.
The Hon. Ms Bonaros referred to my concern that I was not aware of the amendments until a couple of days ago. If they were on file, I had not been aware of that. I certainly would have expected that she might have spoken to me about that, and we have had some conversations about that since. I acknowledge that she has the best interests of people at heart, in situations that are not the regular things that happen to most people, and so in that sense I understand what she is trying to do.
I understand it well, because I have been doing that sort of thing for people who are not in regular situations for 14 years. We have been through the births, deaths and marriages issues and we have been through the issues of the other acts. We now have a standalone bill, but if it is the wish of this council today, then we are going to add something to a standalone bill that, in my view, does not deserve to be there. I think it is well placed that we consider these things. The Minister for Health and Wellbeing has given me a commitment, and I think he gave this parliament a commitment, that he is working on ways of that being done other than in this bill.
However, I have been a member of this chamber for over two decades and I am aware of the way that if it is the will of this place to support the Hon. Ms Bonaros, then the sooner it goes to the House of Assembly and the sooner it is dealt with the better, and I trust and hope that the people who say that they will not play games with this in the House of Assembly—as has been done before on many occasions—will not play games with it. I say that because there are people who, in recent times, have never shown any interest in this matter whatsoever, never taken the time to speak to me about it, but sought to delay, and some of those people, I think probably surprisingly, voted against the bill.
I do not wish to delay the chamber any further. I respect the wishes of the Hon. Ms Bonaros in trying to advance this matter for the people she is concerned about. It is not my inclination to support it because I think it is an addition to this bill which should not be there in my view. As I have said many times, if we can expedite it through the other place that is all well and good, but I have heard those things before.
We are getting closer to another Christmas and I was abjectly disappointed nearly two years ago when the government of the day did not fulfil its promise for the compromise bill that the Hon. Mr Hunter and I worked out with the then attorney-general, when that was left languishing in the early hours of the morning because certain members of the Labor Party removed their numbers from the chamber so that there was no quorum left to deal with it.
How do you think I felt, and how do you think all the supporters—the very quiet people out there—felt at the way that this legislation was treated on that occasion? I do not want to see another Christmas go past without this legislation intact.
The Hon. C.M. SCRIVEN: I have a question to the mover, or it may be somebody else who has greater experience in this place than myself: with the amendment in its current form, which simply says that the government must establish a register, is there a time frame for that? I think there is an automatic time frame if it is not accepted in the legislation; is that correct?
The Hon. C. BONAROS: That is correct. We have not set a different time frame, so the time frame would be two years. The government has two years within which to establish the register. Under the bill that I introduced previously, the time frame was four months. Obviously, that was subject to negotiation, which did not occur with the government, but in this instance there are two years within which to establish the register.
The Hon. D.G.E. HOOD: I am of a mind to support the amendment. It is a difficult one for most of us, I think, because a lot of these things are not clear-cut. However, my reasoning is simply that I am from a family—it is not surrogacy but a similar situation—where both my father and my wife are adopted and, therefore, we are not aware of their family history, if you like. These were back in the days of so-called closed adoptions. It has presented some challenges along the way, with respect to accessing medical histories in particular.
They are not insurmountable and they are not things that have been very significant issues for us, but I could imagine a circumstance where it could be very difficult for individuals if they were not able to access their medical history through their ancestry, for want of a better term. I am inclined to support the amendment on that basis. It is not an attempt to undermine the process. I am on record as not supporting the bill, and that has been the case for some time, but if this makes it easier for someone to access their records and therefore to have a smoother process then I am inclined to support the amendment.
The Hon. I. PNEVMATIKOS: I, too, support the amendment. I do not envisage that the amendment will result in considerable delays. I appreciate the concerns the Hon. Mr Dawkins has raised, but I think there is sufficient goodwill on this issue, in both houses, for us to see this through. I am not supporting the amendment to cause delays; I am supporting the amendment because I believe it will lead to a fairer bill.
The Hon. I.K. HUNTER: I find the Hon. Mr Dawkins incredibly persuasive in his arguments to us about this amendment, having had a similar experience with the lower house when dealing with this legislation in the past, with unwonted delays and obfuscation of the issue. In a cynical manner, that makes me want to side with the Hon. Mr Dawkins on this one. In the past, we have also experienced governments using the word 'may' in a way that I think thwarted the intentions of the parliament. So, on this occasion, I will be supporting the Hon. Ms Bonaros.
The Hon. E.S. BOURKE: I would like to echo the words of the Hon. Mr Hunter. I will be supporting the amendment.
The Hon. F. PANGALLO: I will be supporting the amendment. As my colleague the Hon. Connie Bonaros has pointed out, it is important to have this and to have it registered. The Hon. Dennis Hood has given us an example of why it should be there. I think it actually strengthens and improves the bill. I will be supporting it.
The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: When I spoke to the motion earlier, I outlined the reasons why the government has opposed it. I will not repeat those arguments, and I will be calling a divide.
The Hon. T.A. FRANKS: I am not as long in this place as the Hon. Ian Hunter, but I have had some of the same experiences. I remember the long history of this bill and, indeed, how the Labor whip in the other place, prior to the last election, played games with this very topic so that the will of the Legislative Council was not heard in full debate. Those reforms never saw the light of day in getting to a vote on that final day. As a result, I do not trust commitments from Labor whips in the other place.
I would like some certainty from Labor members that they will ensure that their party does not obfuscate this time. I have great sympathy for the position that the Hon. John Dawkins has put up, but I also have great sympathy for ensuring that this reform goes through. That is not to say, in any way, that I do not trust that the current health minister will make that happen. I believe that he will act.
However, I do remember that four Labor health ministers have been able to make this reform happen and have not done so. It is the Labor Party in this place that I do not trust. On this occasion, I will support the Hon. Connie Bonaros's amendment, and I will ask the Labor members of the present to ensure that their past practices are not repeated this time.
The committee divided on the amendment:
|Bonaros, C. (teller)||Bourke, E.S.||Franks, T.A.|
|Hanson, J.E.||Hood, D.G.E.||Hunter, I.K.|
|Maher, K.J.||Pangallo, F.||Parnell, M.C.|
|Pnevmatikos, I.||Scriven, C.M.||Wortley, R.P.|
|Darley, J.A.||Dawkins, J.S.L.||Lee, J.S.|
|Lensink, J.M.A. (teller)||Lucas, R.I.||Ridgway, D.W.|
|Ngo, T.T.||Wade, S.G.|
Amendment thus carried; schedule as amended passed.
Bill reported with amendment.
The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK (Minister for Human Services) (12:18): I move:
That this bill be now read a third time.
The Hon. J.S.L. DAWKINS (12:19): At the risk of being against my own principles of not wanting to delay this bill, I hope that people might give me the courtesy of a minute or two. This has been a long haul over many years. I have only ever wished to advance the causes of people who wish to have surrogacy in South Australia. We have had one or two hurdles on the way.
The bottom line for today is that, while I still do not believe that we needed to do what the council has just done, I respect the wishes of the majority. It is a little bit like what I said the other day: does the bill have everything in it that I wanted? No, it does not, but it is pretty close to it, even with this addition. My only concern is that we do not get a delay, and I echo the comments of the Hon. Ms Franks and urge every member and my friends in the Labor Party to make sure that their colleagues do not do anything to delay this, because there has been a very long history to this legislation.
As I, hopefully, prepare to close my file on surrogacy, I would like to thank those in the great majority of people, whether they have wholeheartedly supported me on surrogacy or, in the case of some, have had reservations and have always had some reservations about all assisted reproductive technology but who have not run campaigns against me or undermined me. I appreciate that.
I have done only what I suppose I came here to do, and that is to assist people. I know that sometimes our friends in the other place believe we do not have constituents, but this issue, and all the work I have done on suicide prevention, has basically evolved from the fact that I have taken up the causes of constituents that have concerned me greatly. That is why I am very pleased this has gone through. I will have even greater gratitude and joy once we get a message back from the House of Assembly to say that we can get on with this.
With those words, I thank those who have supported me across the board. While I directed my comments to members of the Labor Party, there have been members of the Labor Party who have been with me right the way through on this, and I am not blanketing that, but there have been others who have obstructed me at every turn. I do not want that to continue. Thank you, Sir. I commend the bill to the house.
Bill read a third time and passed.