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Monday, 2 December 2002
Page: 6906

Senator STOTT DESPOJA (10:28 PM) —The Democrats will not be supporting the amendments. Firstly, I acknowledge the arguments put forward by the Minister for Health and Ageing, particularly the fact that we know that the legislation can provide for regulations as required in relation to this issue. But I ask the minister, or indeed perhaps Senator Harradine, about the wording of amendment (2) and particularly subclause (3) of amendment (3), which defines a conflict of interest as `any interest, personal, pecuniary, professional or otherwise, that could conflict with the proper performance' et cetera. Presumably this broad ranging definition could encapsulate any sort of relationship or interest, such as an acquaintance or someone—themselves or perhaps their spouse—who had an IVF treatment.

I am wondering if my interpretation is too broad, or is my impression correct that the broad ranging nature of this definition could leave itself open to that interpretation, in which case I would be curious to know who could possibly meet such a criterion. Is it not a possibility that it may be very difficult to find someone who would meet that criterion, especially someone who has the expertise in IVF and stem cell science? We could be looking at a licensing committee with no expertise in stem cell science or ART, while recognising that the purpose of the licensing committee is precisely to make informed judgments about licensing applications which necessarily means that they should have that expertise. I know that Senator Harradine provided the precedent but, given the unique nature of this legislation, I am wondering whether or not it is the case, in my interpretation of the broad ranging definition, that we might find it very difficult to find the appropriate people to serve on the licensing committee.