Matter of Interest: Surrogacy Regulations

The Hon. J.S.L. DAWKINS ( 15:41 ): Most members of this place would know that my first surrogacy bill passed through the parliament in late 2009. Honourable members would also be aware that, from November 2014 to May 2015 in this place, we considered a bill that I was proud to have moved, the Family Relationships (Surrogacy) Amendment Bill 2015, which was introduced to expand access to, and improve protections involved in, the surrogacy process in this state.

This bill was carried on the voices in this chamber on 6 May last year and expeditiously transmitted to the other place. I wish to put on the record my sincere thanks to the member for Morialta in another place, who handled this bill in that chamber. The bill was again carried in the other place on the voices on 2 July 2015, and royal assent occurred on 16 July 2015. 

Mr Acting President, you and other members could rightly be asking why, after so much time, I would be speaking about this bill again. Within this piece of legislation, agreed to by the parliament, were provisions which required the Attorney-General and his department to draft regulations so the law could operate in a practical sense and therefore even more prospective parents across the state could access surrogacy in South Australia. 

However, to my dismay, over more than 12 months later I have neither seen nor heard anything coming close to even a draft of these regulations. This is despite putting myself and my office at the disposal of the Attorney-General and writing to him on several occasions asking for meetings and an update. 

For the benefit of honourable members, I will put on the public record which areas of the legislation required the Attorney-General to lift his pen and draw up regulations. Clause 4 of the bill inserted a Part 2B Division 1A which, after section 10F in the act, now provides: 

Division 1A—State Framework for Altruistic Surrogacy and Surrogate Register 
10FA—State Framework for Altruistic Surrogacy 
(2) The Framework is to be prepared by the Minister in accordance with this section. 

10FB—Surrogate Register 
(1) The Minister must establish a register (the Surrogate Register) of women who are willing to act as a surrogate mother within the meaning of section 10HA. 

In summary, the minister, according to the law passed by this parliament, must do two things: one, establish a state framework for altruistic surrogacy via regulation so that incidents such as those relating to Baby Gammy do not occur again, and two, establish a surrogate register and make it practically work via regulation. 

Now, over one year on, after my consistent attempts to have the Attorney-General complete the task this parliament assigned to him, I come to the council to plead on behalf of those South Australians who want and need these regulations to start and complete their families, and plead that the Attorney-General finish drafting these regulations and have them tabled in the parliament quickly. 

These reforms are substantial, and I understand regulations such as these cannot be drafted overnight. However, after nearly 13 months, only one meeting and follow-up correspondence from my office to the office of the Attorney-General on 19 October and 30 December last year and 3 June this year, as well as my taking the opportunity to speak to the Attorney-General when I could, to his staff and also to the Premier whenever the opportunity presented itself, I think the time has now come for the Attorney-General to shape up and deliver these regulations. 

It was clearly the will of this parliament that these changes be made: both houses approved these changes without division. It is apparent from my conversations with the Attorney, including very recently, that very little, if anything, has been done. I remain, of course, willing to assist, with my limited staffing resources, in expediting the development of these regulations. Unfortunately, almost 13 months has been lost for the families wishing to utilise this legislation to be able to develop their own family unit, and I urge the Attorney-General and the government to follow through on these regulations.