In all jurisdictions of Australia, altruistic surrogacy has been the only recently recognized surrogacy that has become legal. However, in all states and the Australian Capital Territory arranging commercial surrogacy is a criminal offense, although the Northern Territory has no legislation governing surrogacy at all and there are no plans to introduce laws on surrogacy into the NT Legislative Assembly in the near future. Moreover New South Wales, Queensland and the Australian Capital Territory have made it an offence for residents to enter into international commercial surrogacy arrangements with potential penalties extending to imprisonment for up to one year in Australian Capital Territory, up to two years imprisonment in New South Wales and up to three years imprisonment in Queensland.
In 2004, the Australian Capital Territory was the first jurisdiction within Australia to pass legislation to make only altruistic surrogacy legal, under the Parentage Act 2004.
In 2006, Australian senator Stephen Conroy and his wife Paula Benson announced that they had arranged for a child to be born through egg donation and gestational surrogacy. Unusually, Conroy was put on the birth certificate as the father of the child. Previously, couples who used to make surrogacy arrangements in Australia had to adopt the child after it was registered as born to the natural mother; rather than being recognized as birth parents, however now that surrogacy is more regular practice for childless parents; most states have switched to such arrangements to give the intended parents proper rights. After the announcement, Victoria passed a law called the Assisted Reproductive Treatment Act 2008, effective since 1/1/2010 to make only altruistic surrogacy legal.
In 2009, both Western Australia and South Australia passed a law that allows altruistic surrogacy legal only for couples of the opposite-sex only, and is banned for single and same-sex couples, under the Surrogacy Act 2008 and the Family Relationships Act 1975 respectively.
In 2010, Queensland passed a law to make only altruistic surrogacy legal, under the Surrogacy Act 2010 No 2. In the same year New South Wales, under the Surrogacy Act 2010 No 102 passed a law to make only altruistic surrogacy legal and in 2013, Tasmania also passed a law to make only altruistic surrogacy legal, under the Surrogacy Act No 34 and the Surrogacy (Consequential Amendments) Act No 31.