Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2004 Week 1 Hansard (10 February) . . Page.. 127..
Bill agreed to in principle.
Bill, by leave, taken as a whole.
MRS CROSS (9.41): I move amendment No 1 circulated in my name [see schedule 1 at page 164].
I must apologise to the Assembly: I should have adjourned the debate before the Chief Minister closed it. He did give me an opportunity to do so, but I did not. My timing was off and I apologise for that. I had intended to adjourn this debate to allow for more community consultation because I felt that this bill was being rushed through but, given that we have now voted on it in principle, I would like to talk to the amendment that I have circulated asking that we allow six months after the notification day for this bill before the bill is put in place. Mr Speaker, can I speak to that?
MR SPEAKER: Yes.
MRS CROSS: I had the intention today, Mr Speaker, of rising to offer partial support for the Parentage Bill 2003. I wanted to say, Mr Speaker, that I was fully supportive of the establishment of one parentage act that ties together all existing parentage legislation.
The parentage legislation is extremely complex and highly contradictory. This arises out of the fact that parentage is determined on a number of presumptions, some of which supersede other presumptions and some of which do not. Presumptions can be either conclusive or rebuttable and there are clauses dealing with these conflicting presumptions. Simplifying all these into one bill is certainly more beneficial to the community than having parts located all through our legislative maze. The consolidation of the Artificial Conception Act 1985, the Birth (Equality of Status) Act 1988 and the Substitute Parents Agreement Act 1994 is beneficial in that it ties together three complex pieces of legislation whilst making little substantive change.
The main substantive changes that this bill is seeking to implement are the extension of the definition of "parent"and the removal of provisions that prohibit same-sex couples from being able to adopt children. I am fully supportive of the first intention of the bill as it is at present. Extending the definition of "parent", and thus "grandparent", "uncle", "aunty"and "cousin", will ensure that no child is disadvantaged by having a legal connection to only one parent.
This bill will remove the inherent disadvantage that children of same-sex couples have of being legally connected to only one parent. This is the bill's great advantage. It is removing the inherent inequity forced upon children who have no control over their parents' relationships. I applaud the Chief Minister for removing this inequity. All children deserve to be afforded the same rights as their peers and this bill should ensure that this occurs.
Turning to my amendment, this bill was introduced in November last year and we are debating it less than three months later. The concerns that I have and those that have