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Tuesday, 3 December 2002
Page: 7071

Senator PATTERSON (Minister for Health and Ageing) (10:48 PM) — The amendment proposed by Senator Harradine includes a new clause that appears to seek to make it a statutory condition of all licences that there must be proof of the date on which the embryo was created before the excess ART embryo can be used in accordance with the licence. I do not understand why it is thought that this amendment is necessary, because the legislation already does what the amendment appears to seek to do.

The legislation already requires that the NHMRC Licensing Committee must not issue a licence unless it is satisfied that there are protocols in place to ensure that any excess ART embryos proposed to be used for work that may damage or destroy the embryo were created before 5 April 2002. In addition, clause 24 makes it clear that it is a statutory condition of the licence that, before an excess ART embryo is used under a licence, the licence holder must write to the NHMRC Licensing Committee and confirm that the embryo to be used was created before 5 April 2002, as determined in accordance with protocols that were considered by the NHMRC Licensing Committee before the licence was issued.

The legislation already does what Senator Harradine is proposing. It already makes sure that if an application involves the use of an embryo which may damage or destroy the embryo there must be proof that the embryo was created before 5 April 2002, and the proof must be established in a manner that is satisfactory to the NHMRC Licensing Committee. Further, under the monitoring powers outlined in part 3 of the bill, the inspector will be able to inspect all relevant records to ensure that the conditions of the licence or licences in the legislation have been complied with. For this reason I will not support Senator Harradine's amendment.