A national parliamentary inquiry into surrogacy has recommended that the Federal Government introduce a model framework to harmonise existing State and Territory laws. The inquiry also recommended that the practice of commercial surrogacy should remain illegal in Australia. The report, “Surrogacy Matters”, was released last week by the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Social Policy and Legal Affairs after a series of public hearings. For more information on the terms of reference of the inquiry, see TimeBase’s earlier article.
In a media release announcing the report, the Committee said:
“The Standing Committee on Social Policy and Legal Affairs report into surrogacy highlighted a range of challenging and complex ethical and legal issues that arise from the practice. While supporting the current ban on commercial surrogacy by Australian States and Territories, the Committee recommended that the Australian Government consider options for developing a streamlined legislative response to altruistic surrogacy.
The Committee found that differences in State and Territory surrogacy laws were a barrier for many Australians who sought to enter into altruistic surrogacy arrangements. While altruistic surrogacy is legal in Australia, it can be hard for intended parents to find suitable surrogates and different laws may not provide adequate protections for all parties.”
The Committee recommended that the Federal, State and Territory Governments develop a model national law to facilitate altruistic surrogacy in Australia. They recommended that the model law follow four guiding principles:
They also recommended that the Australian Law Reform Commission be asked to conduct an in-depth 12-month inquiry into the currently existing surrogacy laws. The inquiry could be used to facilitate the development of the model national law, as well as explore a number of issues including:
The Committee also made recommendations in regards to overseas surrogacy arrangements, including:
The Committee recommends that the Australian Government introduce legislation to amend the Migration Act 1958 such that Australian residents seeking a passport for a young child to return to Australia are subject to screening by Department of Immigration and Border Protection officials to determine whether they have breached Australian or international surrogacy laws while outside Australia, and that, where the Department is satisfied that breaches have occurred, the Minister for Immigration is given the authority to make determinations in the best interests of the child, including in relation to the custody of the child.
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