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Tuesday, 3 December 2002
Page: 7062


Senator HARRIS (9:43 PM) —I would like to further emphasise the importance of Senator Harradine's proposed amendments. To some extent they are supported by the President of the United States of America. On 9 August President Bush made a public statement:

As a result of private research, more than 60 genetically diverse stem cell lines already exist ... I have concluded that we should allow federal funds to be used for research on these existing stem cell lines, where the life and death decision has already been made ... This allows us to explore the promise and potential of stem cell research without crossing a fundamental moral line, by providing taxpayer funding that would sanction or encourage further destruction of human embryos that have at least the potential for life.

We now have America accepting that it is no longer publicly acceptable to destroy embryos even for the purpose of future research. America has said very clearly that 60 genetically diverse stem cell lines already exist. If America has closed the door totally on the destruction of any further embryos or the production of any embryonic stem cells then I believe Senator Harradine's amendment really does not go far enough.

I have been very critical at times in this chamber and have said that we have blissfully followed the lead of the Americans. In this case I have to eat humble pie and say, `If it is good enough for the Americans then it should be good enough for Australians.' If the scientific ability of the nation of America recognises that they do not need to destroy any further embryos then how much more fitting is it for Australia to follow that lead of the President of the United States? I would be very interested to hear a comment from the minister on whether she would take back to the government on notice a request that no federal funding be used in any way in the further development of the extraction of embryonic stem cells or in the destruction of any embryos.