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No large-scale reform for adoption law, Government says

03 August 2016

Justice Minister Amy Adams says the Government does not consider that inconsistencies between provisions of the Adoption Act 1955 and the NZBORA right to be free from discrimination significantly impact on adoptions.

She says they therefore do not present a situation that would move the Government to undertake large scale reform of the Adoption Act at the present time.

photo of Amy Adams  

The Government Response to declarations of inconsistency by the Human Rights Review Tribunal in Adoption Action Incorporated v Attorney-General has been tabled in Parliament.

In Adoption Action Inc v Attorney-General [2016] NZHRRT 9, the Tribunal declared six provisions of the Adoption Act 1955 and one provision of the Adult Adoption Information Act 1985 to be inconsistent with the right to be free from discrimination affirmed by section 19 of the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act 1990.

In the Government response, Ms Adams says the Government does not agree with the Tribunal's findings that two provisions - section 3(2) and section 7(2)(b) of the Adoption Act - are inconsistent with the right to freedom from discrimination affirmed by section 19 of the NZBORA.

She says it is for the Ministry of Social Development and, ultimately, the courts to continue to apply the Adoption Act in a way that reflects modern legal and social contexts, and that, in practice, results in rights-consistent application.

Ms Adams says the Government continues to have an ambitious justice legislative programme.

"To undertake reform of the Adoption Act would require significant resource reallocation, and the Government is committed to advancing its current work programme before beginning other substantial reform," she says.

"In addition, an extensive reform programme is underway to modernise Child, Youth and Family (CYF) and improve the long-term outcomes for vulnerable children. Any review of adoption law should be cognisant of the overhal of CYF and, accordingly, would need to occur subsequent to that reform."

Ms Adams says that in time a review of adoption legislation may be beneficial to ensure it is framed in a way that reflects modern society. However, currently, the Government is satisfied that in practice, the provisions of the Adoption Act are interpreted in a rights-consistent manner.

Last updated on the 16th September 2019