Senate debates

Tuesday, 7 November 2006

Prohibition of Human Cloning for Reproduction and the Regulation of Human Embryo Research Amendment Bill 2006

In Committee

1:57 pm

Photo of Ruth WebberRuth Webber (WA, Australian Labor Party) Share this | Hansard source

As with most things on this legislation, I agree with Senator Stott Despoja. With a closer examination of the wording of Senator Nettle’s amendment—as I said before, I absolutely support the sentiments behind it—I now do not see any great problem with supporting the amendment itself. However, I do have a question for Senator Nettle or for others involved. The words themselves about ‘the capacity for the scientific advances to be delivered through the public health system and/or to reduce the global disease burden’ look fine. I am sure that is something that we would all support. However, I would like a bit more detail about just how we define that capacity and how we look at tying that to any licence that is granted.

I would not in any way, as I say, want to have a very narrow definition of what that capacity is or what those perceived benefits in reducing the global disease burden are at any one time that would stymie any development or research into the future. We have discussed long and hard in the second reading debate in this place the fact that none of us know exactly what the future holds in any of this research. So I would not want to have too restrictive a definition of how we define advances or benefit when, as we all know, scientific research is a leap into the unknown and therefore we have to put a lot of faith in what people say is possible and probable. We have to find that balance and therefore I would not want to say that perhaps the NHMRC or others were restricted in granting licences because we could not come up with a strictly defined definition.

Progress reported.


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