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Tuesday, 2 September 2014
Page: 9357

Mr HUTCHINSON (Lyons) (12:02): I will be brief. In my contribution yesterday evening, I neglected to talk particularly much about the bill itself. I gave examples of two families, both of whom had been through a process that had involved enormous personal commitment, and they had very different experiences going through the process. I thought it was worthwhile bringing the local context to what is a really important bill before the House.

The Australian Citizenship Amendment (Intercountry Adoption) Bill 2014 amends the Australian Citizenship Act 2007 to facilitate the grant of Australian citizenship to children adopted by Australian citizens through bilateral adoption arrangements between Australia and countries not party to the Hague convention on intercountry adoption. The purpose is to create an entitlement to citizenship for children adopted under bilateral arrangements, equivalent to the entitlement currently provided for children adopted under Hague convention arrangements.

Following the 2013 election, the Abbott government moved quickly to investigate the possible improvement of Australia's intercountry adoption program, with Prime Minister Tony Abbott announcing on 19 December last year that he would establish an interdepartmental committee on intercountry adoption to report back to him in March this year. It was to have options for implementing reform within Australia over the next 12 months. The committee's report identified a range of impediments to intercountry adoption, including the lack of nationally consistent state and territory regulation, prohibitive fees, waiting times and the standard post-adoption support services, some of which I highlighted in the examples that I gave before nine o'clock last night.

Among the committee's more significant recommendations was a proposal for a new national intercountry adoption service to apply to all Australians wanting to adopt a child from overseas. This is an important bill. As I mentioned last night, the member for Mallee highlighted that this is really about family. There is nothing more important than family. It involves a real commitment by the families involved. As was discussed, the decisions that are made should always be in the best interests of the child. What could be better for a child than the opportunity to come into a loving family, with parents that in many cases give their all, financially and in so many other ways? So many of us here have had the opportunity that many do not.

It is right and proper that there are checks and balances in place. It is right and proper that there are rigorous procedures that need to be followed. There are opportunities for red tape and other things to be improved upon. There are opportunities for COAG to work more collaboratively where there are discrepancies between state regulations. We can do better, but this is a real opportunity for our country. I certainly wholeheartedly support the bill before the House, as I think both sides do.

The SPEAKER: I thank the member for Lyons for an excellent contribution. It is a matter that is close to my heart as well.

Debate adjourned.

Leave granted for second reading debate to resume at a later hour this day.