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