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Wednesday, 13 November 2002
Page: 6291

Senator MURPHY (8:51 PM) —I have listened to what the Minister for Health and Ageing had to say with regard to the fact that we ought to trust the premiers and chief ministers, duly elected and with good common sense, to be able to ensure that this is an independent process and that they will get all the right people and get all the good work done. Here we are in the Senate at nearly five to nine and we, as duly elected representatives—of states, might I add—are debating a piece of legislation that we will pass ultimately. I hope that we are, being duly elected representatives, elected with the good sense and the approach to ensure that this legislation will pass through this place in a sound and proper fashion and will be for the benefit and betterment of the community of Australia. I cannot understand why, if you take the minister's argument, it would not be appropriate for the Commonwealth parliament—a federation of states—to then conduct a review of legislation it has passed. Why would that not be appropriate?

The minister said earlier that we could have a reference to a committee and that that committee could review this act at the same time as the independent review conducted by the people chosen by the minister and agreed to by the states and territories. The minister said that even if we had that review, we would then get the report back—and I am not sure that it says that it would report to the parliament—but if they have any amendments to this act then they will come back before this parliament. We are the people who are expected to sit here and debate whether or not this legislation is sound. Why is it not fair to argue that those people responsible in the parliament of this country, whether they be senators or members, do not have the capacity to conduct a review of the nature proposed in this piece of legislation? If there is any reason why I would not support what is proposed it is for that reason alone because you are saying to us that we ain't good enough to do the review. Minister, you tell me one premier or one chief minister who would say that the national parliament could not review this legislation.

Senator Patterson —Most of them.

Senator MURPHY —If that is the case then I have the same cynical doubt about their capacity. If we are expected to pass this legislation then I would argue very strongly that we ought to be given the capacity to review it or parts of it at some time in the future—and that ought to be the case. You cannot ask parliamentarians in this place to debate legislation and then say, `The Prime Minister and a few premiers and chief ministers have got together and decided to have a review but they are going to exclude the parliament of Australia out of that review and the parliamentarians duly elected'. And senators are duly elected as representatives of their respective states and territories so they should be able to participate in a review of the legislation. It is just a nonsense.

Initially, I did not think I would have too much to say about the Prohibition of Human Cloning Bill 2002 but the more I read of this legislation the more I believe it is the messiest piece of legislation. It is fundamentally flawed. Just wait until we get to the other part of it. What has a chief minister or a premier of a state got to do with this parliament deciding whether we ought to have our own review of the legislation that we pass? What a nonsense.

Question negatived.