Tuesday, 7 November 2006
Prohibition of Human Cloning for Reproduction and the Regulation of Human Embryo Research Amendment Bill 2006
Could I say at the outset that it would be helpful to get a very clear understanding of what the procedure is from here. The bill has come to the committee stage a bit earlier than people had anticipated. Initially there was a suggestion that we would be doing the second reading stage through until this evening, but obviously we have come to it early, which is fine. As we have just seen, there was a vote, 34 to 31, in favour of the second reading. I appreciate that people like Senator Hogg will vote against the legislation, regardless, at the third reading. I am not one of those. What happens at this stage of the debate will influence my final vote, so I am particularly keen that the committee process, and what amendments are being rolled out when, is made completely clear. Obviously, if only two people shift their vote from what we have just seen we can get a very different outcome.
I understand that there are some amendments before the chamber by Senator Nettle. I am quite happy to proceed with those if it is clear that they are self-contained, if you like, which they appear to be to me. But it would certainly be useful from my point of view to know what else is likely to appear before the Senate by way of proposed amendments so that we have some idea of the totality of the issues that are going to be before us. It is a difficult enough issue as it is, at least for some of us, without having piecemeal amendments rolled out here and there. I am not blaming anybody for that; I am just stating a fact. As one of those people who think the legislation as a whole has a lot of good things in it but who has concerns about one or two components, it would be unfortunate if the piecemeal approach led to greater uncertainty amongst all senators in this place, and certainly for those whose views are somewhere in the middle—between total support and total opposition. We need to be clear about what is going on, particularly as it appears we have a close and finely balanced position here. An indication from somebody about what is to come before us would be helpful. Otherwise, I suggest it may be better if we were to adjourn now and come back once things are all settled, at 4.30 or so.