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Thursday, 19 March 1987
Page: 995


Senator HARRADINE(3.48) —This report deserves much more than the five minutes that is allotted to each senator. Obviously a great deal of work has been done by members of the Australian Science and Technology Council. The recommendation for the establishment of the Australian Research Council needs to be considered thoroughly by reference to all of its ramifications. Not having the time to deal with all of the issues involved, I refer simply to one question which was raised in the debate on this subject yesterday. I refer to the comment made about research moneys for reproduction technology. I am not sure whether that comment was made by the speaker having regard to some suggestion by some people within the bureaucracy of ASTEC to take that question over and to give it some sort of priority, but if that is so I would like to issue a note of caution about that particular question. This area of reproductive technology has got into trouble mainly because it has been considered by the authorities as being an area for the scientists and the medical practitioners alone. That is one of the reasons that we got into trouble. I suppose it is one of the reasons that other people have got into trouble in other areas of endeavour.

This question was addressed by the Family Law Council, which made a report to the Attorney-General (Mr Lionel Bowen) entitled `Creating Children-A uniform approach to the law and practice of reproductive technology in Australia'. After considering all the factors involved, the Family Law Council indicated that there should be a national council on reproductive technology one of whose functions would be, as stated on page 113 of the report:

to monitor and make recommendations concerning present and future medical research and the practice of reproductive technology. In so doing, the national body should have the power to require notification of all developments in reproductive technology, including current and proposed research, and developments in practice and procedures

Clearly, this is a question which is beyond the sole scope of scientists and medical practitioners. The Senate Select Committee on the Human Embryo Experimentation Bill 1985 had an extraordinary statement made to it by Professor Roger Short representing the Australian Academy of Science. I asked Professor Short in respect of human embryo experimentation and in respect of in vitro fertilisation why, in that situation, had the usual protocol not been followed: namely, that the first hypothesis is tested on an animal model and when that is found to be safe and effective the knowledge is applied to humans. I asked why this had not been done on non-human higher primates-the relevant animal model. He responded-and it is in the transcript-`Because they are an endangered species'.


The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator MacGibbon) —Order! The honourable senator's time has expired.

Question resolved in the affirmative.