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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 8 Hansard (25 June) . . Page.. 2181 ..

MS DUNDAS (continuing):

In summary, these laws should remain in place until the necessary work has been completed, to enable us to devise the best possible framework.

MR STANHOPE (Chief Minister, Attorney-General, Minister for Health, Minister for Community Affairs and Minister for Women) (10.51), in reply: I thank the Assembly for supporting the extension of the sunset clause. This is a very simple, machinery amendment, which extends the sunset clause from next week to two years to allow further consideration by the Law Reform Commission of work in relation to substitute parent agreements and assisted reproductive technology.

As members have indicated, these are complex and difficult issues. Parenting, parent orders, adoption, substitute parent arrangements and assisted reproductive technology are some of the most difficult issues that parliaments and politicians need to grapple with. It is appropriate that the Law Reform Commission look at these issues, and it is appropriate that we, as an Assembly, be as well informed as possible about the broad range of issues and interests that are at play.

It is disappointing that the Law Reform Commission has not, to date, been able to do the work that it was hoped it would have undertaken by now. There has been a resource issue with the commission, and I am moving to address it. I am moving to ensure that the Law Reform Commission will be able to deal with this reference and that it will come back to the Assembly with some very valuable advice on the issues that have been raised.

As mentioned by Ms Tucker, and as I mentioned when introducing the bill, a lot of work is now being done around Australia. New South Wales is developing assisted reproductive technology legislation that will inform some of the work we do, and the Council of Australian Governments is working on the development of a nationally consistent approach to assisted reproductive technology. We will be guided and informed by that, but we will also do work that is specific to the ACT and allows the ACT community to be engaged in the consideration of these issues.

Again, I thank members for their support of this extension of the sunset clause by two years. In that period we will undertake the necessary work so that we can get a co-ordinated and considered approach to the issues of supported parent orders and assisted reproduction technology. I have had concerns about what I regard as some adhocery in law making in the territory for assisted reproductive technology. I do not think this is an area that should be characterised by policy making that is knee-jerk, ad hoc, uninformed or less consultative than we would wish.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Bill agreed to in principle.

Leave granted to dispense with the detail stage.

Bill agreed to.

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