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Monday, 2 December 2002
Page: 6892

Senator PATTERSON (Minister for Health and Ageing) (8:47 PM) —I would like to ask a question of Senator Boswell. He made the statement that you can clone from stem cells. Because this is a conscience vote, I do think that people should have full information. I have read widely in this area, although I do not claim to be an expert in it. I do not believe that there is evidence to date—and I have sought advice and had this advice supported by asking people from NHMRC—of any possibility that you can clone a human embryo from a stem cell, and any cells that are derived in Australia would be derived under the regulations that have been agreed to by COAG.

I am sure senators will remember the discussion that we had regarding a similar amendment to the Prohibition of Human Cloning Bill 2002. I indicated on that occasion that I was not necessarily comfortable with the issue and I asked that it be deferred so that I had time to go to the Prime Minister. We addressed the issue and at that time I said that the Prime Minister had given an undertaking to amend the Customs (Prohibited Exports) Regulations 1958 to provide for a 12-month prohibition on exporting human embryos, during which time the government will determine the most appropriate way of regulating such exports. In addition, during discussions on the Prohibition of Human Cloning Bill 2002, the government also undertook to amend the Customs regulations to implement a ban on the import of viable materials derived from human embryo clones. I will not be supporting this amendment and advocate that people who are supporting the bill not support this amendment.