Program

Ms Garrett(Brunswick) — I would like to add my best  wishes to the Leader of the House on her birthday this week.

I am sure  she does not need a diamond bracelet. I would suggest that every week in this house has been sprinkled with diamonds for the government!

On a  very serious note, while we talk about birthdays,  a number of people in a very significant  group celebrate their birthdays year in, year  out not knowing and desperately wanting to know who  their biological fathers are. Birthdays are a  time when we reflect  on  where we have come  from,  the circumstances of our entering this  world and  our family  ties. A  group of  people in  Victoria are celebrating those milestones not knowing a cornerstone of their heritage.  We on the opposition side of  the house reiterate our deep concern about this government’s refusal to bring on for debate legislation  about the rights of  donor-conceived people to know their heritage.

I want to once again put  on  the record in this house the  background  to  this matter. We  have spoken  on this  regularly,  and  we  have had  the Law  Reform Committee look at this issue over two  Parliaments.  On  15  September  2010  an interim report was tabled  and a  final report was presented to Parliament on 28 March 2012. This cross-party committee that included the member for Prahran  and the  now Minister for  Small Business was unanimous  in its recommendations. The committee heard from dozens of witnesses, people who believed that the rights of donor-conceived people  to know their  genetic heritage outweighed the rights of donors to remain anonymous and that the fair and just approach was to change the legislative regime to allow those people born through donor  conception pre-1998 to have identifying information about their father.

Included  in that report were protections in the form of contact vetoes and also a very strong recommendation — —

  The SPEAKER — Order! I ask the member to return to the business program.

  Ms GARRETT — I am. Included in that report was  a very  strong recommendation that  records  should be  protected.  I understand  and  appreciate  the house’s indulgence on this. I ask for that indulgence  because  a  significant  group of Victorians are observing this debate and have  observed this issue progress over many years. They are  watching us  today and  would like  the Parliament to deal with  this issue with the  solemnity  it  deserves.  We  are  not  opposing  the government business program per se. In May of  this year  the member for Ivanhoe and I  were putting  on the  record our very strong concerns that the government was refusing to bring this matter on for debate.  The bill has languished on the notice paper for months.

There is a group of Victorians for  whom this  is a  significant and fundamental issue about their lives. Quite frankly, by not bringing this issue forward to be discussed, this government is not giving that group of people the  respect  they deserve.

As  the  house  knows, the Labor opposition introduced a private members bill in the Legislative Council which  gave effect to  the unanimous recommendations  of the committee report and only to those  recommendations.  It went no further. It kept faith with that report. The government  of course  did not  allow debate of that private members bill to take place in any way, shape or form.

Once  again  we are in  the  Legislative Assembly  dealing  with the fundamental rights of Victorians who have appealed to this place to  remedy injustice and to ensure that  we do  not have  three different  classes of people in Victoria but that  all people  who have  been born  by way  of donor  conception are  treated equally under the law — —

  The DEPUTY  SPEAKER  — Order! I  ask  the member to come  back  to the motion before the house.

  Ms  GARRETT — I note  your insistence, Deputy Speaker, and  as I said, I have appreciated the house’s  indulgence on this  matter.  I call on  this government again to bring this legislation on  at the first available opportunity. Let this place of democracy have the debate about the  rights of  people in our community and ensure that those rights are heard.

Hansard, 24 June 2014