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Thursday, 14 November 2002
Page: 6341


Senator CHRIS EVANS (10:36 AM) —I just want to indicate on behalf of the Australian Labor Party that we will not be supporting Senator Harradine's amendments. We were aware of the concerns being raised during the debate in relation to the export and import of human embryo clones and products derived from them. We supported the deferment to allow some progress that was being made around the chamber on those issues. We understood that those concerns were legitimate and genuinely held and that there was a need to work through some of those issues.

As we now know today, the response of the government has been to announce that there will be two amendments to the customs regulations: firstly, to ban the export of human embryos for 12 months subject to further review and, secondly, and more particularly, to ban the import of viable material derived from human embryos and clones, subject to a more comprehensive review in 12 months. I think Senator Ellison just gave some more detail on that. I think that is a reasonable response from the government. It seeks to address the concerns that have been raised, but it does not substantially depart from the national approach which was agreed by COAG and which these bills seek to implement. For those reasons the Australian Labor Party's formal position will be to support the approach that the government has indicated it will take and to oppose Senator Harradine's amendments, but, as I have indicated on all other issues in this debate, Labor senators will obviously be able to have a conscience vote on those matters. The formal Labor Party view will be to oppose Senator Harradine's amendments and to welcome the response given by the government in relation to the customs regulations to be formulated.