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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1996 Week 9 Hansard (27 August) . . Page.. 2572 ..

MRS CARNELL (continuing):

with parental control over the child. It ensures that the birth parents can decide to keep the child at any time before the parentage order is made, and it requires independent counselling and assessment of both the genetic and the birth parents. These restrictions and the other strict demands of the proposed legislation provide protection for both the child and the adults concerned.

Finally, I would emphasise that there is nothing in this Bill, or in any other legislation, which compels the birth mother to give up the child she has borne as a result of a surrogacy arrangement. That is not a matter for the law. As I have said all along, a surrogacy agreement cannot be enforced, and should not be able to be enforced. Rather, the success of a surrogacy arrangement depends on the quality of the relationships between the people involved and their commitment to each other and, above all, to the child. Both couples are involved because they openly and freely choose to be. That is why I refer to it as altruistic surrogacy. This Bill is basically straightforward. It simply clears the way for the child of such an arrangement to belong to his or her genetic parents. That is vitally important for the wellbeing of the child. I therefore ask all members to support the Bill. I understand that members could rightly have some questions to ask on this Bill. Apart, obviously, from approaching the Government, I suggest that they might like to speak to the people involved in the birth of baby Jessica.

Debate (on motion by Ms Follett) adjourned.


Debate resumed from 27 June 1996, on motion by Mr Humphries:

That this Bill be agreed to in principle.

MS FOLLETT (10.50): The Opposition will be supporting this Bill put forward by the Attorney-General. Mr Speaker, it is not a major issue that we are dealing with here, but I am sure that it is of considerable significance to members of the legal profession who, as matters stand without the passage of this Bill, may well have to carry two lots of indemnity insurance. I hope, Mr Speaker, that the clearing of their way on that matter will be reflected in reduced cost to their clients in due course.

The Bill deals with the requirement that solicitors have indemnity insurance before they can be issued with an unrestricted practising certificate by the Law Society. The Bill amends the existing law, as I understand it, so that the Law Society will now have some discretion to issue a certificate to a solicitor who does not hold professional indemnity insurance. It also allows a solicitor who is not in practice on his or her own behalf, and therefore does not have moneys held in trust, to hold an unrestricted certificate without having that professional indemnity insurance. I think the community would want to be assured that solicitors at all times had appropriate insurance; but, having studied the Bill, I believe that that will be the case if the Assembly passes it.

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