Wednesday, 6 December 2006
Prohibition of Human Cloning for Reproduction and the Regulation of Human Embryo Research Amendment Bill 2006
in reply—I would like to thank everyone who participated in this debate. I think the debate has been a good debate from both sides, my opponents’ side and supporters’ side. I note that Kay Patterson is in the chamber behind me. She did a wonderful job. I also want to thank in particular Natasha Stott Despoja, Ruth Webber, Claire Moore and all the people here for putting this bill together. It is a fabulous piece of work. Basically I do not want to discuss this too much more; I want to just thank people. I want to thank the scientists. I think they put a lot of effort into the Lockhart review. Mrs Juliet Lockhart is up in the gallery. Juliet, thanks for being here and for all your husband’s great work. It was a tremendous job and it was a sensational committee.
Basically, the fact is undeniable that the wider our net of research the more we enable our great scientists to have ethical research, and this is ethical research, and the greater our possibilities of finding treatments for those chronic and intractable diseases that are 70 per cent of the afflictions that our population suffers. No-one can deny the reality that the more we open our avenues of research, the greater our possibilities of finding treatments for these horrific diseases that affect our population. So no-one can argue against the science.
On the ethics, everyone is entitled to their view, and I respect their view. Kay Hull, who has just spoken, is a good friend of mine and I respect her view too. I think everyone has done this with great sincerity. However, the ethics are based on a falsehood. What I hear is not anything to do with the mammalian or human science that I have been taught as a medical doctor. There are no life forms unless we have an embryo—that is true—to start with. But it has to then go through the procedure of intrauterine implantation and be there in that uterus in a successful way and grow for at least 20-plus weeks to have any life or success of life. Anything short of that is a hoax.
The contraceptive pill used by 30 per cent of our women, for example, stops implantation of fertilised embryos, which are fertilised in the tube but do not implant in the uterus. The same argument would stop the use of contraceptive pills, would stop the use of the intrauterine contraceptive device and of course would make us implant every embryo from IVF programs into our women. Who would condone that? Italy does actually have a law like that. If we tested for abnormality, all the normal ones would have to be implanted—otherwise we would be unethical under the debate I have heard, which argues against my point of view. That is quite unreasonable. In fact, it is frankly ridiculous. But, if you extrapolate, that is what you are talking about.
This debate today is about allowing our scientists with those in the rest of the major countries in the world, including the US of A, the UK, Singapore, Israel, Sweden, China, Japan, South Korea et cetera, to cooperate in a global struggle to treat these horrible diseases, many of which have been mentioned today. Are we close? Yes, we are close. Just recently Nature, a top magazine, reported that human embryonic cell generated pancreatic tissue generating insulin and other pancreatic hormones was developed and stabilised. The reality is that we may not be so far away. No-one can promise what is going to happen tomorrow, but there is no justification to stop our scientists researching what is now part of a global phenomenon.
The other thing I want to mention and remind people of is that three states at least in this country will legislate to have this technology made legal. I think without national leadership that would be a crying shame. So if the debate is lost, it will happen anyway. People who debated against it will use the products of it, as normally happens, and they are entitled to do that. I do not deny them that. But I think they have to remember that it is for their kids. If they do not want it for themselves, why not want it for their kids and grandkids? I am sure we will have breakthroughs.
Chris Pyne is a good friend of mine. Chris, I am sorry to use names here. I admired your speech and your sincerity. We have amendments. Chris is a genuine man. I listened very carefully to what he said. I have a great affection for him. He does not share my views on this, but I have a great affection for him that is very sincere. He said he found this bill to be so repugnant to him—those might not have been his exact words but Chris will correct me—