Tuesday 14 June 2011
Hansard of the Legislative Council

[11.23 a.m.]
Ms FORREST (Murchison - Motion) - Mr Deputy President, I would first like to thank REX - Regional Express airlines - for bringing me back from Melbourne, because I was in Melbourne too. Thankfully REX turbo-props fly low under the volcanic ash and I was able to get a seat. I had a seat booked -
Mr Wilkinson - You were next to North Melbourne, weren't you?
Ms FORREST - I did not go to the football. I went to two shows, which were fantastic: Love Never Dies and Doctor Zhivago. I was wondering what would happen if I could not get here and whether we would deal with this motion at all as I am keen to do.
Mr Deputy President, I move -
That the Surrogacy Bill 2011 (No. 7) and the Surrogacy (Consequential Amendments) Bill 2011 (No. 8) be referred to the Legislative Council Government Administration Committee A for inquiry and report.
In speaking to it, I wish to inform members that this motion was discussed by Government Administration Committee A a few weeks ago and it was agreed that this motion be debated by the Council according to the Sessional Orders made when we established these committees, which did note that a bill could be referred by a motion of the House. That is why it has come back to the House for this debate to refer it.
Mr Deputy President, the purpose or intent of referring this bill to the Government Administration Committee A is not to inquire into whether surrogacy should or should not be regulated - that is a matter for individual members to consider and that is why we have a bill before us now - but it is to consider aspects of the bill that are currently before the Council that are contained in the bill.
This decision is based on the reality that I and a number of other members and key stakeholders have expressed concern about: issues that are fundamental to the operation of this bill that require further consideration to ensure that all parties to a surrogacy arrangement and, in particular, the child's best interests are served. The bill before this Chamber, when compared with legislation in other jurisdictions around the country, appears to be almost cobbled together. The bill incorporates some aspects of legislation in other jurisdictions but in doing so it fails to address some of the fundamental aspects that could be reasonably considered to be in the child's best interests. I do not intend to go into all of those aspects now specifically as that really is a matter for debate at another day when the bill is debated before the Parliament itself.
I am also aware of the fact that there have been a number of inquiries into the matter of surrogacy and what aspects of surrogacy should be considered in legislation. These inquiries have been very informative. I know that the Leader sent out a memo, I think last week, saying there have been a number of inquiries and that is a fact; there have been. There have been lots of inquiries into surrogacy. This inquiry, the purpose of referring this bill to this committee is not to inquire into surrogacy, it is to inquire into the bill that is to regulate surrogacy in Tasmania. (Part of Ms Forrest’s opening address)

Mr FINCH (Rosevears) - Mr Deputy President, I will make a short contribution because I think that a lot has been said today in respect of the motion and we have got down to the tintacks of what we are trying to achieve here and that has been expressed by the speakers here this morning. I appreciated very much the member for Nelson's contribution with that comparison between the various States. That was very fruitful information. I would like to have a closer look at that. I was trying to get it into the iPad as we went along but it was pretty difficult. That was very helpful research.
It was making that comparison as to where we are with what we are trying to achieve here and with the debates that have already ensued throughout Australia. I think that the value of where we are coming from with this bill is that we have the opportunity to pick the eye teeth out of the debates that have occurred and the results that they have come up with and then to see whether they suit what we want to achieve here in Tasmania with the best possible bill that we can achieve for people who find themselves in this situation of heading down the path of surrogacy.
It is something that I would imagine very few of us would have been involved with, or with family members who have found themselves in this situation. But we need to ensure that they have the best possible legal protection though the power of this bill that we are going to work on.
If this motion does get through I will be looking forward to attending as many of the briefings and presentations that are available to us so that I can start or continue to develop an understanding of what this issue is about and how it affects the people in our community who need help with this legislation.
I could not help though, in the situation that we find ourselves in, to reflect on a bill that I think would go back five or six years ago now, member for Murchison. I talked about the sex industry bill, that we were debating here when you came into the House. You must have wondered what the heck was going on. It was an interesting process and that was in some ways similar to the position that I find myself in here. I remember when I spoke on the sex industry bill I talked about the fact that I did not think the bill was properly in place and I did not feel - different situation here - that the debate had been strong enough in the community. Although, as was pointed out at that time, there had been a lot of reports and a lot of work had been done. You might remember that there were four people who stood up to speak and were against the bill and in my presentation, even though I was supporting the intent of the bill, I did -
Mr Parkinson - Are you talking about the first bill or the second one?
Mr FINCH - The first one; I will get to the second one in a moment. In the presentation on the first bill there were feelings that I expressed. Even though I agreed with the intent of the bill and what was trying to be achieved, I did in fact speak negatively about my ability to support the bill.
Ms Forrest - The Government obviously listened because they came back with a completely new version.
Mr FINCH - Of course, when we got to the fourth speaker who spoke in the negative, the bill was in fact pulled. When that bill came back to the House - in the interim of course there is a suggestion made to each of the members that if you have amendments to this bill bring them forward and they will be included. That was the reflection to me, that the bill was not in place properly as it should have been and that we had gone down a very bad path. Then subsequently, when the next bill came in, it bore absolutely no resemblance to the first bill.
Ms Forrest - And that was only a matter of a few days.
Mr FINCH - It was a shocker as far as I was concerned and I spoke against that bill because it bore no relation to the first bill that we were trying to use to assist the sex industry. Anyway, with that in mind, I just feel that there is no time imperative here; if there is, the Leader might explain it to me. I cannot see a time imperative that we need to achieve the consideration of this bill this week and I think that the more time - we have heard from the discussions today, the variants in opinions from the member for Nelson, the variants across the States. I cannot see any reason for us not to closely examine this even more so that we end up with the best possible bill that we can achieve in this Parliament. I support the motion.