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Thursday, 22 August 1985
Page: 228

Senator TATE(9.48) —I move:

That the Senate take note of the paper.

I wish to speak on the report of the Family Law Council entitled `Creating Children'. I believe the Council is to be congratulated on the presentation of this report to the Parliament. I believe that Mr Justice Asche and his committee members are to be commended for undertaking the study of a very significant feature of Australian society which so far has not been subject to such an assessment and a set of proposals which attempt to express an Australian rather than a State, a fragmented or piecemeal view. It is quite clear that the recurring theme of this report is that too often the approach to this wonderful breakthrough in medical technology, which is well-known to all honourable senators, is often spoken of in narrow medical procedure categories and the wider and serious legal, social and ethical issues are not addressed. I believe that this Family Law Council report addresses this issue for the first time, and does so in a very sound and comprehensive manner. The Council speaks, for example, of the fact that this technology is concerned not just with the medical procedure but also with creating a child with family formation. It is therefore said that it is essential that all the interests which are vitally concerned in these matters be represented in any body which proposes the legal, ethical and social framework within which this activity should occur.

The reason that I am taking some time with this matter-I will be only a couple more minutes-is that the Senate Standing Committee on Constitutional and Legal Affairs has before it at the moment a reference from this chamber which touches on some of the issues covered in this report. Only this week we are advertising for written submissions and perhaps witnesses on the issue of the legal status of children arising out of in vitro procedures and the need for a national or uniform approach in the way in which the Commonwealth might be able to help. That is only a very narrow aspect. It is well known that in the debate in which the chamber gave us that reference Senator Harradine's Bill was particularly excluded from our purview of this topic.

However, I think this report falls within the general supervisory jurisdiction of this Committee. It may well be that the Senate will find it an advantage to have the Senate Standing Committee look at this report as a whole. That may help the Senate in coming to some conclusions in relation to it. We would be prepared to devote very considerable resources and give some priority to the review of this very important report. That is all I wish to say to indicate to the chamber that my Committee stands ready to aid the chamber in its review of the issues raised by this report. Maybe that matter can be taken up at a later time.