Labor has raised the commercial surrogacy case of baby Gammy, calling for safeguards in a government adoption bill before parliament.

The heart-breaking case of baby Gammy highlights the need for safeguards in Australia’s proposed revamp of inter-country adoption laws, parliament has heard.

The government wants to make it easier for families to adopt children from South Korea and Taiwan by allowing children immediate citizenship once the adoption process is completed.

But Labor MPs used debate on the government legislation on Monday to argue for the rights of children to be ensured amid the controversy surrounding commercial surrogacy.

Clare O’Neil said the case of Gammy – whose West Australian parents allegedly left their Down syndrome baby in Thailand – showed there were risks in both surrogacy and adoption.

“For good-willed people it’s unimaginable that there are people out there who would use surrogacy and adoption for ill means,” she told the lower house.

“But the issues in (Gammy’s case) illustrate there are people out there who will try to use these systems for really evil acts.”

Her Queensland Labor colleague Graham Perrett said inter-country adoption should be about finding families for children, not children for families.

The “horrible” situation for Gammy highlighted Australia’s international obligations to protect the best interests of the child, and families in home countries who simply want a better life for their children.

“It broke my hear to hear of the situation for Gammy,” Mr Perrett said.