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Thursday, 14 November 2002
Page: 6362


Senator JACINTA COLLINS (12:42 PM) —On this particular matter, I would like to draw the committee's attention to an issue that I raised earlier in relation to the Australian Health Ethics Committee. This is a theme that will carry through quite a number of the amendments. I have sought to get advice—different from my own personal ethical position—on how best we make this the strict regulatory regime that was the COAG intention. The Australian Health Ethics Committee has also touched on this issue in its opinion that the proposed regulatory system would not deliver the strict regulatory regime required by COAG if it did not deal with some grey areas of the draft bill—for instance, those terms open to interpretation such as `proper consent'.

This area of consent is one where AHEC has also indicated that a more detailed approach is necessary. We are in a similar position on this issue to the guidelines matter. Whether the parliament seeks to detail every single aspect of what we think is adequate in relation to how such matters should be interpreted to deliver a strict regulatory regime or whether we rely on the NHMRC and AHEC to detail how they think the likes of guidelines or regulations in such matters are best expressed is open to debate. Certainly, in this case, Senator Barnett has sought the `let's try to detail it thoroughly in the bill' approach. I think AHEC's position on how best to deal with this issue is, in my mind, still quite grey, because it has been very difficult to get full details. The committee will be familiar with my approach in trying to ensure that AHEC gave us the benefit of their advice.

Progress reported.