Update: Amendments put forward by Linda Burney and Frank Sartor have been successfully attached to the bill meaning that the bill will go back to the Legislative Council for another vote.

The amended bill passed the Legislative Assembly in a vote of 53-27 at around 6:50pm

Update 6:30pm Liberal Member for Ryde Victor Dominello spoke to oppose the bill, but said that he might support a more restrictive bill at a later date.

Labor Member for Campbelltown Graham West opposed the bill claiming that it raised more concerns than it answered.

Labor Member for Bathurst Gerard Martin said he had not intended to speak on the bill but had been moved to do so by some of the claims of its opponents. He spoke in favour of the bill with the amendments  put forward by Linda Burney and Frank Sartor.

The Nationals Katrina Hodgkinson said it was unusual that she had not been lobbied by third party groups on either side of politics. She said that she did not oppose the bill at this stage but was looking forward to considering all amendments.

Wyong ALP Member David Harris said he supported surrogacy “in principle” for infertile women but said he would not support it while it allowed people to access surrogacy based on “social needs”. In the bill this refers to single people and same-sex couples. He supported the Frank Sartor amendment to put a maturity test on intended parents under 25.

Liberal Chris Hartcher opposed the bill as he had opposed same-sex adoption.

Macquarie Fields Labor MP Dr Andrew McDonald, who is a pediatrician, spoke in favour of the bill and to point out that the bill already addressed the concerns that speakers against the bill had raised.

At around 6:15 a vote was held to support the bill “in principle” 54-31.

Update: 5:45pm Debate on the Surrogacy Bill 2010 began in the Legislative Assembly today at around 5pm, with Labor Riverstone MP John Aquilina and the Liberals Jonathan O’Dea the first to speak against the bill.

The Nationals’ Russell Turner spoke in favour of the bill, unamended.

Clover Moore spoke in favour of the bill as amended by Linda Burney to criminalise overseas commercial surrogacy arangements.

Frank Sartor put forward an amendment to put a maturity test on intended parents under 25.

The debate can be watched live at- http://stream.ac3.com.au/NSWLA

4pm: The Labor Member for Canterbury, Linda Burney, has foreshadowed an amendment to the Surrogacy Bill currently before parliament.

The amendment would see NSW residents who travel overseas to enter into commercial surrogacy arrangements, guilty of a crime even where the arrangements were legal in the country where the arrangement took place.

Currently the Surrogacy Bill only makes it illegal to undergo commercial surrogacy in NSW but leaves other countries to regulate their own jurisdictions.

This means that NSW residents who enter into overseas commercial surrogacy arrangements would simply not be recognised as parents under NSW law.

Burney’s amendment goes a step further, making it a criminal offence to have a baby through commercial surrogacy, with a maximum penalty of $110,000 or two years in prison or both for those found guilty.

Whether Burney’s amendment is attached to the bill will be decided by MPs through a conscience vote.

It is unknown how wide support for such an amendment would be.

In an email to MPs, Burney said the bill was intended to punish those who “take advantage of women who hire out their bodies because they are poor.”

Burney wrote that she believed the amendment would not disadvantage children born from such arrangements as their parents could apply to adopt them or seek a parenting order.

Debate on the Surrogacy Bill was supposed to have resumed yesterday but was pushed off the agenda in the Legislative Assembly by a fiery debate over political donations reform.

The NSW Gay & Lesbian Rights Lobby (GLRL) has encouraged community members to write to Burney and other MPs.

“The provision to criminalise extraterritorially may impact on children born via commercial surrogacy and dissuade parents from seeking parenting orders for fear of criminal prosecution, which could result in the children having no legal recognition to their parents,” said NSW GLRL policy coordinator Senthorun Raj.

“We want to ensure that all children have the legal rights and protections regardless of their method of conception.”

Sydney Star Observer understands that the Liberal Member for Epping, Greg Smith, will also seek an amendment barring same-sex couples from altruistic surrogacy arrangements.

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