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Wednesday, 13 November 2002
Page: 6189


Senator HARRADINE (11:05 AM) —I propose to include an offence provision under a new clause 22A, after clause 22, which is on page 4—and I invite honourable senators to look at page 4. I propose to insert a new clause related to the importing or exporting of a human embryo. Proposed clause 22A would read:

(1) A person commits an offence if the person intentionally or recklessly imports a human embryo into Australia except for the purpose of placement in the body of the woman for whom it was created or for adoption.

Maximum penalty: Imprisonment for 10 years.

Proposed clause 22A(2) is to do with the exportation for those reasons. I move my amendment (R6) on sheet 2697 revised:

(R6) Page 12 (after line 4), after clause 22, insert:

22A Offence—importing or exporting a human embryo

(1) A person commits an offence if the person intentionally or recklessly imports a human embryo into Australia except for the purpose of placement in the body of the woman for whom it was created or for adoption.

Maximum penalty: Imprisonment for 10 years.

(2) A person commits an offence if the person intentionally or recklessly exports a human embryo from Australia except for the purpose of placement in the body of the woman for whom it was created or for adoption.

Maximum penalty: Imprisonment for 10 years.

It is self-explanatory. It does intend to impose a penalty for the export or import of embryos. That is an important matter which has been referred to previously. Frankly, I do not believe that it was the intention of the COAG to allow for the export of embryos from Australia or the import of embryos to Australia, for example, from Singapore. I was proposing to put a blanket ban on that practice when it occurred to me that a woman who has frozen embryos here might want to live overseas, for example. Under those circumstances, clearly, she ought to be able to export those human embryos—and, vice versa, involving a woman coming from another country to Australia. In addition to that, there may be the situation of somebody who wants to adopt. For example, if an accident were to occur to the mother of those embryos, her sister may at some stage wish to adopt those embryos. Under those circumstances, adoption should be permitted. Therefore, importation or exportation of those embryos should be exempt, as I am proposing in this amendment.

The amendment is self-explanatory. You are either for it or against it. But again I say that it would be very unfortunate with regard to the importation or exportation of a human embryo. I am aware of what the minister said about the proposal for an amendment to the Customs (Prohibited Import) Regulations. I do not know whether the minister will elaborate a little further on that. But, having moved my amendment, I do not believe that I need to expand further on it at this stage.