Attorney General George Brandis has announced a Commonwealth parliamentary inquiry into surrogacy, to be conducted by the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Social Policy and Legal Affairs.
Announcing the inquiry, the Attorney General’s media release stated that “surrogacy raises a broad range of legal and social issues, and raises questions relating to the rights, responsibilities, values and protections of Australian citizens”.
The Attorney General also announced that John Pascoe, the Chief Justice of the Federal Circuit Court, has been appointed to the Experts' Group on parentage and surrogacy at the Hague Conference on Private International Law.
The terms of reference for the inquiry into the regulatory and legislative aspects of surrogacy arrangements will include:
- the role and responsibility of states and territories to regulate surrogacy, both international and domestic, and differences in existing legislative arrangements
- medical and welfare aspects for all parties involved, including regulatory requirements for intending parents and the role of health care providers, welfare services and other service providers
- issues arising regarding informed consent, exploitation, compensatory payments, rights and protections for all parties involved, including children
- relevant Commonwealth laws, policies and practices (including family law, immigration, citizenship, passports, child support and privacy) and improvements that could be made to enable the Commonwealth to respond appropriately to this issue (including consistency between laws where appropriate and desirable) to better protect children and others affected by such arrangements
- Australia's international obligations
- the adequacy of the information currently available to interested parties to surrogacy arrangements (including the child) on risks, rights and protections
- information sharing between the Commonwealth and states and territories, and
- the laws, policies and practices of other countries that impact upon international surrogacy, particularly those relating to immigration and citizenship.
The Standing Committee is currently accepting submissions. Any interested individuals or organisations who wish to provide a submission are asked to email the secretariat at email@example.com by 1 February 2016 expressing their intention to submit. Submissions are due by 11 February and the committee is to report no later than 30 June 2016.