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Wednesday, 24 October 1984
Page: 2412

(Question No. 1028)


Senator Coates asked the Attorney-General, upon notice, on 22 August 1984:

Does the Sex Discrimination Act oblige the States to change their laws on the registration of births to ensure the father can be named on a birth certificate as well as the mother, whether or not they are married to each other and whether or not they use the same surname; if so, has the Attorney-General advised the States of this; if not, why not, and is there any action the Government can take to bring the law up to date on this matter.


Senator Gareth Evans —The answer to the honourable senator's question is as follows:

The Sex Discrimination Act does not oblige the States to change their laws on the registration of births in the way described. To the extent to which these laws do not entitle the father of a child to be named on a birth certificate they would be discriminatory against men and not within the reach of legislation the constitutional foundation for which, in its operation with respect to State laws, is the external affairs power and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women. The Commonwealth does not otherwise have power to legislate comprehensively with respect to information to be included in birth certificates.