Draft Daily Hansard - Day 3 - 12 May 2022
Debates and Questions for 14th Assembly 2020 -; Parliamentary Record; ParliamentNT; 14th Assembly 2020 -
Made available by the Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory
Debates and Questions
Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory
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Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory
Daily Hansard Thursday 12 May 2022 Meeting No 47 39 Not before 30 days, but not after 180 days following the birth, an application will be made to the local court to transfer parentage from the surrogate to the intended parent or parents. This is registered on the Births, Deaths and Marriages Register and only the intended parent or parents become the childs legal parents. This bill also inserts new part 4B into the Births, Deaths and Marriages Registration Act 1996 to provide for the registration of a parentage order. As you can imagine, this is a critical step. Legal parentage is important to the status of a child. Under an informal surrogacy arrangement, the parentage of the child remains with the birth mother. In the Territory, this is the effect of the Status of Children Act 1978 and, until now, the only way to transfer full legal parentage was through adoption. Without the transfer of parentage those raising the child may encounter difficulties such as obtaining a passport for the child; obtaining medical treatment or even enrolling a child at school. Clearly, it is in the best interests of the child to have the intended parental relationship recognised. During the briefing stage the Member for Namatjira asked a question around what happens if, following the birth, no parties claimed parentage of a child? There is no example of domestic altruistic surrogacy in Australia of the intended parents not transferring the parentage. Clause 22(d) of the bill requires the pre-arrangement legal advice to include the legal implications where neither the intended parents nor the birth parent want to be permanently responsible for the child. This clause requires that legal advice be included and where neither of them want to be permanently responsible for the child, the intended parents who do not take the child after birth could be liable to pay damages. This would be discussed in the pre-arrangement counselling as one would expect. The bill also expressly criminalises commercial surrogacy and associated activities. Many overseas surrogacy arrangements are commercial in nature and heighten the risk of commodification of the exploitation of both surrogate mothers and intended parents. This bill, in contrast, is underpinned by the principle of the best interests of the child and provides safeguards for surrogate mothers and intended parents. The principles reflect Article 3 of the Convention of the Rights of a Child. A child is not a commodity and this bill provides the framework to protect that so that we will not see that from surrogacy arrangements. It is the principle that will guide the way the Act is to be administered and the way all decisions are to be made. Subject to this paramount principle the bill includes further principles to protect both parties from exploitation. The bill expressly criminalises commercial surrogacy and provides safeguards in the form of conditions that must be met before entering into a surrogacy arrangement, after the birth of the child and during the court proceedings that see the transfer of the parentage. These safeguards protect the best interests of the child and ensure the parties to a surrogacy arrangement understand and appreciate the implications of what they are embarking on. There is, in clause 57 of the bill, a transitional provision that allows the Local Court in certain circumstances to make a parentage order where surrogacy arrangement has been entered into before the commencement of the Act. For the house all the other jurisdictions in the legislation, except for the Australian Capital Territory, have a provision such as this. Part 4 of the bill establishes offences targeting the commercialisation of surrogacy and these offences are: entering into a commercial surrogacy arrangement advertising a commercial surrogacy arrangement providing a fertility service to facilitate a pregnancy under a commercial surrogacy arrangement or brokerage for reward The brokerage offence applies to any surrogacy arrangement. It is not limited to commercial surrogacy arrangements. The element of seeking or receiving payment allowing a 3rd party profit from surrogacy arrangement gives the offence a commercial aspect. There were further questions asked during the briefing stage and, as the Member for Namatjira mentioned, a situation where the intended parents may have separated prior to the birth but both wanted to be legal
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