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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 4 Hansard (25 June) . . Page.. 1186 ..

The Bill provides for a presumption of parentage to arise from a period of cohabitation of any length provided that it occurred in the period from 44 weeks to 20 weeks before the birth of the child. Previously the period of cohabitation had to be at least 6 months and became effective in creating a presumption of parentage by being close to the date of the birth. Under the new provisions the focus will be on the date of conception rather than the date of the birth. There will no longer be a minimum period of cohabitation required.

The Bill provides for conclusive presumptions to arise from court findings that are made during the lifetime of the parent. This means that where a court has made a finding which involves deciding that a person is the parent of a particular child, the matter does not have to be argued again in any future proceedings. If the court finding was not made until after the death of the parent it still creates a presumption of parentage but that presumption can be set aside by another court if the facts brought forward later support a different conclusion.

The Bill also makes changes of minor detail to existing provisions on medical parentage testing.

None of these changes involves any real change to policy in this area. Underlying all these provisions is a recognition that all children should be treated equally. The aim is to allow a child's parentage to be clearly established. This Bill makes some small changes which improve the legal mechanisms for doing that.

I commend the Bill to the Assembly.

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