RESEARCH INVOLVING EMBRYOS BILL 2002: Consideration in Detail
Mr CADMAN (Mitchell) (11.33 a.m.) —I could not believe my ears and I am sorry that I could not contain myself, but the speaker was speaking for the opposition. He was not speaking on his own conscience.
The opposition has a view on this and it is the weirdest thing I have ever heard that the opposition has a view but its members can make their own decisions. Talk about an iron fist within a velvet glove because that is what this is about—holding a fist over the head of your members by having an official point of view. The previous speaker presented an official point of view for the Australian Labor Party that they do not want the Australian parliament to review something.
The SPEAKER —The member for Mitchell must also link his remarks closely to clause 60.
Mr CADMAN —I am coming to the review process, that this parliament not review it.
The SPEAKER —The member for Mitchell will resume his seat.
Mr Stephen Smith —Mr Speaker, I rise on a point of order. You referred to the timbre and spirit of the debate which the member for Mitchell is doing his best to undermine. I have made the point previously. The member for Mitchell would not want to try the patience of the House because there are procedures available.
The SPEAKER —The member for Perth does not have a point of order and I hope he would concede.
Honourable members interjecting—
The SPEAKER —The chair is attempting to address the parliament and is not being facilitated by the member for Sturt or by the member for Rankin in this instance. I hope the member for Perth will at least concede that the chair had already intervened in the member for Mitchell's remarks. The member for Mitchell will bring his remarks to clause 60. [start page 6897]
Mr CADMAN —I was coming to that and, in doing so, I am happy to have the gag applied any time the opposition spokesman cares to apply it. The arguments of the Attorney are interesting because he says the review may need to be done because nobody is sure whether the 70,000-odd embryos are sufficient for the purposes required by researchers. It is a fascinating argument because we have the researchers, such as Professor Trounson, saying in the one instance he has enough, and in another instance, he will need many more. The inconsistency of the scientific remarks leads me to be deeply concerned that the Attorney should be advancing the argument that the 70,000-odd excess embryos available at this time or at the time prior to the 5 April 2000 may not be adequate for the purposes of research. Therefore, a review may be required earlier than 2005. To my mind, that is opening up a Pandora's box as to how far it is the intention of those involved to take this issue.
The fact of the matter is that the review process needs to take place and the arguments presented, and that it will automatically come back here is not the case. Clause 60 repeals automatically certain sections of the act. That process means that it does not come before the parliament. It only comes before the parliament if we decide to amend this legislation and make it come before the parliament. On the one hand, the review is done by a body of scientists who report to COAG and COAG makes a decision remote from any consultation with the parliament. On the other hand, the other process in clause 60 is that in three years time there are three sections of the act which are automatically repealed which relate to the destruction and damage of embryos. These are not a matter of review; the only review is a secret review with, I suppose, some public consultation conducted by the scientists for the purpose of advising COAG, which makes the decision. We do not make a decision here, and that is why I object to clause 60. I think it should be removed. There should be transparency in the process. To have some sort of backdoor review process or an automatic repeal without the say of the parliament is a denial of the responsibility of the parliament. I respect the member for Dunkley, but his arguments are just absolutely off the planet and unrelated to the facts of the bill. (Time expired)
Author: Alan Cadman MP
Source: House Hansard - 25/9/02
Release Date: 29 Sep 2002