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RESEARCH INVOLVING EMBRYOS BILL 2002: Consideration in Detail

Mr CADMAN (Mitchell) (9.20 p.m.) —by leave—I move the amendments to clause 25 of the Research Involving Embryos Bill 2002 which have been circulated in my name:

(1)Clause 25, page 9 (line 6), omit paragraph (1)(a), substitute the following paragraph:

(a)the use is for the extraction of embryonic stem cells and is authorised by a licence; or

(2)Clause 25, page 9 (after line 6), after paragraph (1)(a) insert:

(ab)the use does not damage or destroy the excess ART embryo and is authorised by a licence; or

The purpose of the amendments is to ensure that there can be no doubt about the purposes for which embryonic cells are used. Embryos in this legislation are being considered as items for research. I am proposing two changes. The first change is to ensure that the use of embryos is confined to the extraction of stem cells and authorised by a licensing process. You will note, Mr Deputy Speaker—because I know that you are careful to observe these things—that the legislation uses a broader term. The term used in the legislation is that `the use by the person is authorised by a licence'. I am seeking to make sure, in amendment (1), not only that the person is authorised but also that the use is for the extraction of embryonic stem cells. The purpose of the legislation is made clear in this amendment. It is not clear to the extent that I would wish it to be in the original proposal.

I have also inserted a second part which I trust the House will agree to, because I do not seek in any way to do more than clarify the situation of the original legislation. It is not my intention to try to play tricks on the House but to clarify the situation. The second part of my amendment seeks to insert another limitation which is expressed in the terms that the process of the use of an assisted reproductive technology embryo does not damage or destroy the excess embryo and is authorised by licence. So the two new parts seek to make sure that the embryo is used for the extraction of stem cells and not for other purposes and that the use does not damage or destroy embryos. Section 25(1)(b) of the bill remains in place. It says:

(b)the use by the person is an exempt use within the meaning of subsection (2).

So all it does is seek to clarify the process. It does not seek to change the intention of the legislation. It endeavours to address some of the concerns that have arisen in the last few weeks and which I believe were created by Professor Trounson. It ensures that there is greater certainty: that the community is assured that there is not some sort of scientific activity going on which they do not understand. I do not think it is unnecessarily restrictive of the processes of research which this legislation seeks to cover, but in fact more carefully defines the exact intentions of the House and the COAG agreement.

There has been deep concern in some sections of the community because of statements made by a number of proponents of stem cell research that they are seeking to do one thing or another and that embryonic stem cell research will create extraordinary results and in a very short time. We have had our second reading debate and people have expressed their views about the significance of this research, whether they agree with it or disagree with it, and about whether or not it offers potential. Rather than seeking to have that debate over again, it is my intention in these amendments—and I know it is the intention of my colleague the member for Sturt—to make sure that we clearly define the intention originally set out by the COAG agreement. (Time expired) [start page 6282]

Author: Alan Cadman MP
Source: House Hansard - 16th September 2002
Release Date: 19 Sep 2002


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