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Tuesday, 30 June 1998
Page: 5703


Mr MELHAM (9:50 PM) —The Family Law Amendment Bill (No. 1) 1998 makes two changes to the Family Law Act 1975 in relation to intercountry adoption. The explanatory memorandum has the general outline of the bill. I think it is worthwhile reciting that explanatory memorandum, which states:

The Bill will enable regulations to be made to give effect to bi-lateral arrangements with other countries on intercountry adoption. The objective is to provide for automatic recognition of adoption decisions made in countries which are prescribed in the regulations. In negotiations with the government of the People's Republic of China on a bi-lateral agreement on intercountry adoption, the Chinese representatives have insisted on an assurance that Australian law will recognise adoption decisions made under Chinese law. The amendments proposed in this Bill will enable regulations to be made to give recognition in Australian law to adoption decisions made in the People's Republic of China. The negotiation of a bi-lateral agreement with China can then be finalised.

The Bill will enable regulations to be made to confer jurisdiction on Australian courts to make decisions on intercountry adoptions. In developing relations for the implementation in Australia of the Hague Convention on the Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption 1993, State and Territory Governments have proposed that decisions on applications for adoption should be made by certain State and Territory courts. At present the provisions of the Family Law Act 1975 do not provide for jurisdiction to be conferred on all of these courts. The amendments proposed in this Bill will enable regulations to be made to confer jurisdiction on the relevant courts.

The bill is non-contentious. It has the support of the opposition, and I indicate to the government that we are prepared to facilitate speedy passage of this bill through the parliament.