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Wednesday, 24 November 1999
Page: 12599

Mr McClelland asked the Attorney-General, upon notice, on 20 September 1999:

(1) Did Australia on 25 August 1998 ratify the 1993 convention on Protection of Children and Co-operation in respect of Intercountry Adoption, known as Hague XXXIII within the Hague Conference system

(2) Did the Convention enter into force for Australia on 1 December 1998.

(3) With which countries has Australia made, or is Australia preparing to make, arrangements under the Convention.

(4) For which conventions in the Hague Conference system is his department responsible.

Mr Williams (Attorney-General) —The answer to the honourable member's question is as follows:

(1) Yes

(2) Yes.

(3) The Convention establishes legally binding standards and safeguards to be observed by State Member countries participating in intercountry adoption among themselves.—As such there is no need to make arrangements under the Convention with particular State Member countries to enable adoptions between them to occur. If prospective adoptive parents wish to adopt from a participating country they need to make an application through their State or Territory department responsible for adoption matters.

Apart from the Convention, Australia has a number of current adoption programs pursuant to bilateral arrangements between the States and Territories and overseas countries. Those programs precede Australia's participation in the Convention but, in accordance with the Commonwealth, State and Territory agreements on ratification of the Convention, are to be renegotiated by December 2001 to ensure that those arrangements comply with the principles of the Convention.

Further, the State of Victoria on behalf of all States and Territories, and the Commonwealth are currently negotiating with the People's Republic of China on a new bilateral adoption agreement.

(4) Australia has ratified, or acceded to, the following Hague Conventions:

XI Convention on the Conflicts of Laws Relating to the Form of Testamentary Dispositions;

XII Convention Abolishing the Requirement of Legalisation for Foreign Public Documents;

XVIII Convention on the Recognition of Divorces and Legal Separations;

XX Convention on the Taking of Evidence Abroad in Civil or Commercial Matters;

XXVI Convention on Celebration and Recognition of the Validity of Marriages;

XXVIII Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction;

XXX Convention on the Law Applicable to Trusts and on their Recognition;

XXXIII Convention on Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption.

The responsibility for all of these Conventions lies with this portfolio.