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Tuesday, 3 December 2002
Page: 7039

Senator HARRADINE (6:14 PM) —I think this committee stage would be assisted if the spokespersons from the government, the minister and Senator Evans, were a little prepared to listen to the argument. For example, it has been said that there may be other ways to deal with the matter— for example, as with the conscientious objection matter. As I pointed out last night, we are given a conscience vote on this bill, but the bill approves of a program which will violate the consciences of a number of other people—not only researchers but also students and others. That is a real problem. I proposed a conscience vote to protect those persons with conscientious objections, as there are moral and psychological distresses involved, and yet that was voted down— closely, by six votes, but nevertheless it was voted down. That was partly due to what the minister said—presumably speaking on behalf of the government—and what Senator Evans said from his notes. The minister was saying that they agree, but that there are some other ways. My question was: what ways? The guidelines of the NHMRC were trotted out. Those guidelines are totally unenforceable, apart from when an organisation or institution is receiving government money. It is a disgrace for that to have occurred. Senator Stott Despoja opposed the motion to protect the consciences of persons affected by this legislation. No suggestion has been made as to how those workers or others, including students, will be protected. You have asked me to move the proposal in clause 20. Isn't it a fact that on sheet 2713 revised there is an amendment to be moved by Senator Nettle?

The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN — That has been moved and dispensed with. We are now considering your amendment, Senator Harradine.

Senator HARRADINE —I thought that (R1) on sheet 2713 amended 19A. Were (R1) and (R2) taken together?

The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN —No, Senator Harradine. (R1) was taken singularly and that has been disposed of. We are now considering your amendment to clause 20, which is amendment (4) on sheet 2696.

Senator HARRADINE —As usual, you are correct.

The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN — Thank you, Senator Harradine. You are very kind. I wish every senator showed me that same cooperation.

Senator HARRADINE —I hope this does not take long. If the minister might explain—

The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN — Senator Harradine, perhaps you could cooperate just a little bit more and formally move that amendment.

Senator HARRADINE —I move amendment (4) on sheet 2696:

(4) Clause 20, page 15 (line 7), omit “(if any)”.

By omitting the words `if any' the clause reads: `An application under subsection (1) must be made in accordance with the requirements specified.' That ensures that the NHMRC must specify the requirements for a licence application. If the Committee of the Whole does not mind, I might hurry things up. I see that Senator Campbell is here—he will be pleased with that. I seek leave to move amendment (5) as well.

Leave granted.

Senator HARRADINE —I move amendment (5) on sheet 2696:

(5) Clause 21, page 16 (after line 2), after paragraph (c), insert:

(d) that the applicant has the expertise and capacity to carry out the functions authorised under the licence.

These amendments deal with licence conditions. In effect, I ask that the NHMRC should specify the conditions that must govern an application for a licence. I ask the minister whether that is already catered for. If it is, I would be happy to withdraw that amendment.