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Thursday, 6 September 1984
Page: 556


Senator ELSTOB —My question to the Attorney-General concerns the in vitro fertilisation program. Have any of the States' artificial insemination by donor or in vitro fertilisation programs made any provision to enable children born under the program to know their genetic origin? Does the Attorney agree that there is a need for a national authority to monitor the entire test tube program and to develop uniform legislation?


Senator GARETH EVANS —I understand that the Infertility (Medical Procedures) Bill 1984, which is now before the Victorian Parliament, has provisions with respect to record keeping by hospitals and the Health Commission and access by children to information about their genetic background. However, no legislation is yet in force.

I certainly agree that there is a need for a multidisciplinary approach to consider the complex legal and social issues that are raised by medical developments in the AID and IVF areas. The Standing Committee of Attorneys- General has been involved in developing uniform status legislation, which is one of the key issues that arises in this matter. However, we have really been looking only at the legal aspects of these issues. A number of inquiries are already under way in the States, with the Victorian Waller committee having just issued its final report. I believe that the Commonwealth could play a useful role in monitoring programs, marshalling material and co-ordinating findings where ground has already been covered by other inquiries and covering areas that are not now being traversed. Recently, I suggested to the Minister for Health that officers of our two Departments should collaborate with a view to making recommendations on the scope and objectives of a specialist national body of inquiry in this area.