SARC on conception, caves, councillors and cops

With twenty-three bills introduced into Parliament in just two sittings, eleven last time and twelve this time, writers of statements of compatibility have been getting quite a workout (despite the break for the Abortion bill.) So, too, have writers of SARC reports. 

The latest SARC report raises Charter issues with five bills:

  • Assisted Reproductive Technology Bill & Research Involving Human Embryos Bill: Both bills raise the issue of whether embryos have rights and whether the destruction of unwanted embryos and research into unwanted and specially created embryos (of various sorts) are reasonable limits on those rights. In addition, the ART Bill raises issues of:
    • Discrimination on the basis of impairment, sexual orientation and marital status, in that users of assisted reproductive technology have to undergo criminal and child protection checks, whereas natural parents don’t.
    • Freedom of expression, in that a provision intended to ban the commissioning of surrogacy appears to cover public statements about a person’s potential willingness to engage or act as a surrogate, such as this example of public debate
  • Greenhouse Gas Sequestration Bill: Is a blanket, uncompensated expropriation of all ‘geological storage formations’ more than 50 feet below Victoria compatible with the property rights of owners of property sold by the Crown prior to 1891 (when the Crown stopped giving away the land deep under Victoria?)
  • Local Government Amendment (Councillor Conduct and Other Matters) Bill: Is suspending councillors because of and by reference to unresolved criminal charges compatible with their presumption of innocence (to the extent that one exists outside of the courtroom?)
  • Police, Major Crime and Whistleblowers Legislation Amendment Bill: Is the cure for the flawed ban on calling OPI employees as witnesses, allowing them to be called if the DPI agrees, worse than the disease, because it treats state and non-state litigants, including criminal defendants, differently?
SARC also resolved to call for public submissions on the three ART bills, its third inquiry this year.

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