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Monday, 2 December 2002
Page: 6870

Senator PATTERSON (Minister for Health and Ageing) (5:17 PM) —I apologise to Senator Harradine, but I think he will understand why I took five minutes out before question time. Just before question time, Senator Harradine expressed concern that certain activities are exempt. This is because the offence provisions were drafted very broadly to apply to all uses of excess ART embryos, not just research involving the destructive uses of ART embryos. This was intentionally done to ensure no loopholes were created. The exemptions were included to exempt routine ART clinical practice. This is entirely consistent with the COAG decision that expressly stated:

Accreditation by the Reproductive Technology Accreditation Committee (RTAC) of the Fertility Society of Australia should provide the basis for a nationally-consistent approach to the oversight of ART clinical practice in Australia, noting that compliance with the NHMRC/AHEC Ethical Guidelines on ART is a key requirement of the RTAC accreditation.

The COAG decision also states:

Individual jurisdictions may choose to mandate RTAC accreditation in legislation or supplement requirements for RTAC accreditation with an additional layer of oversight ...

Therefore, in response to Senator Harradine's question about who oversees RTAC and ART clinical practice, COAG clearly stated this is an issue for states and territories to mandate, should they see fit.