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Wednesday, 13 November 2002
Page: 6302


Senator PATTERSON (Minister for Health and Ageing) (10:03 PM) —I remind honourable senators that this is obviously a highly technical bill and, as I said, people have very strong views. Yes, I am the health minister, Senator Harradine, and I have to be on top of a lot of issues. I do not happen to be a lawyer; I do not happen to have every aspect of the Gene Technology Bill at my fingertips. But in the spirit of the fact that this was going to be a difficult debate, Senator Ian Campbell arranged a meeting of all the people who are deeply involved in this. He asked that if people had detailed questions, especially technical questions, they give them to me so that I could give people reasonable answers. I am not trying to obfuscate, and I think most people would know that I am not that sort of a person. In trying to ensure that I could answer people's questions—and I think we had five days of committee hearings on this bill, when these quite detailed questions could have been asked—I did ask that people do that so that I could attempt to answer them as well as I possibly could. That has not happened. With regard to the issue of heritable alterations of genes and clause 18, I can confirm that clause 18 is not intended to prohibit non-heritable alterations such as somatic cell therapy.

Question agreed to.

Progress reported.