Question Time - Overseas adoptions

Transcript, E&OE, proof only

4 March 2014

Ms JULIE BISHOP (Curtin—Minister for Foreign Affairs) (15:04): I thank the member for Ryan for her question and I note her ongoing concern and interest in this matter. As she knows, last December our Prime Minister committed this government to delivering reform on overseas adoption, in collaboration with the states and territories. I can confirm that today, just three months after that announcement, that decision to act, the Prime Minister and Attorney-General Brandis have announced the commencement of new laws to streamline the process for Australian families adopting children through Taiwan and South Korea. As the member will know, approximately 40 per cent of overseas adoptions come from South Korea and Taiwan.

These laws will significantly reduce the time frame to finalise adoptions. They will reduce that unnecessary stress on families, allowing them to focus on supporting their child to feel safe and secure in a new home. The legislative amendments will also affect adoptions from Ethiopia that have not yet been finalised in Australia. The decision to include Ethiopia is to assist the small number of families in Australia whose adoptions through the programs have not yet been finalised. The best interests of the child are at the heart of these laws. The Australian government is committed to ethical and responsible intercountry adoption practices consistent with Australia's international obligations. The laws are consistent with the need to ensure appropriate safeguards are in place to protect children whilst providing this streamlined process for Australian families who wish to adopt.

On behalf of the Prime Minister and the government, I also want to place on record our thanks to Deborra-Lee Furness, for her steadfast advocacy, and Helen McCabe, Catherine McDonnell and John O'Neill, who in fact joined the Prime Minister for the announcement today. Supporting families is a core value of the coalition, and I know that it is a core value of those opposite, so I look forward to the support across the chamber for these laws, in the interests of children being adopted and in the interests of the families who want to adopt these children so they can feel secure and loved in a new home in Australia.

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