Bills: Surrogacy Bill

Wednesday September 11, 2019

Mr BELL (Mount Gambier) (15:39): I rise to make some very brief comments on the Surrogacy Bill and indicate to the house that I will be supporting it through to the committee stage. I also congratulate the Hon. John Dawkins on his tireless work in this area.

In the committee stage, I will be reserving my right on the final vote on this bill because the strength of any legislation is not proven when things are going well and things that can be foreseen occur. The strength of legislation, how robust that legislation is and how it holds up to factors that may not have been thought of or contemplated at that time, is proven when things do not go well.

I just want to touch briefly on a couple of concerns as a forewarning, I suppose, for the committee stage when I will be asking questions really around the rights of the surrogate and also the donors, or what I will call the parents, of the child. When it is going well it becomes a not simple but logical transaction. Of course, in Thailand we had baby Gammy, who was born with Down syndrome, and I reflect on that situation when it comes to this bill. How is this legislation going to handle something like this, which can occur?

I reflect on that situation where the parents no longer want the child, as happened with baby Gammy in Thailand, because of a disability. Where is the onus on who is looking after that child or the legal guardian of that child if that contract breaks down for whatever reason? I am just using the reason of a disability. What occurs if in that transaction phase of nine months or 10 months, the parents separate and no longer wish to pursue having that child?

These are the things that I really want to explore in the committee stage, that is, what this legislation does to address some of those issues within the bill not when things are going well but when things potentially go very badly and this legislation is then before the courts, or people are before the courts. I keep coming back to one part that I really like about this, and that is the best interests of the child.

As I said, there are other questions that I will have through the committee stage. I congratulate the government on bringing this forward. It is a conscience vote so there will be many people with diverse views on this. While I segue a little away from the bill, I also congratulate the Minister for Child Protection on her push for adoption and increasing the ability for people in South Australia to adopt children.

I really do congratulate the government on putting the child first. Looking at that through the lens of what currently has been going on, I would argue quite strongly that perhaps in a lot of instances, or some instances particularly, what is best for the child has not been held up in the highest manner it can be.

I also indicate that I support the member for King's amendment regarding criminal history checks or police checks. I will be interested to ask some questions around the introduction of that and how it is going to play out as part of this bill. With those very brief comments, I indicate that I will be supporting this through to the committee stage. I will certainly be engaging heavily with questions during that stage and reserving my right on the final vote.