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Wednesday, 13 November 2002
Page: 6197


Senator PATTERSON (Minister for Health and Ageing) (12:00 PM) —I will be opposing the amendment proposed by Senator Harradine which establishes a new offence for offering or receiving valuable consideration for the supply of human tissue or the right to take human tissue from a person's body or from an embryo or foetus. As all senators are aware, the focus of this legislation is on prohibited embryos and prohibited practices involving embryo, sperm and egg, such as commercial trading. To extend the legislation to all human tissue is to go way beyond the scope of this legislation. That is not to say that I do not recognise, acknowledge and agree with Senator Harradine that the trade in human tissue is an important issue. It is one that is currently being dealt with through state legislation in a way that is not entirely consistent. I appreciate that this is an area that may require further consideration, but it is not really within the context of this bill. The scope of the bill is much narrower. It is focused on embryos, not on human tissue. This is a very complex issue which needs to be dealt with in a much more detailed way. I believe there is some work already being done. In some of the states there are bills on human tissue, but there is not a nationally consistent approach. It is an important issue to raise, but I do not think this is necessarily the appropriate place to do so in the form of an amendment to this bill.