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Wednesday, 4 December 2002
Page: 7122

Senator HARRADINE (12:14 PM) —I move amendment (8) on sheet 2696:

(8) Clause 24, page 17 (line 28), omit “may”, substitute “must”.

Amendment (8) deals with clause 24, page 17, line 28 of the Research Involving Embryos Bill. I am seeking to omit the word `may' and insert in lieu thereof the word `must'. These are provisions where a licence is subject to the condition that, before an excess ART embryo is used as authorised by the licence, certain things must occur. Subclause (5) of the bill states:

The conditions specified in the licence may include, but are not limited to, conditions relating to the following ...

It then lists them. I am proposing that the `may' be replaced with `must'. The amendment would then say `The conditions specified in the licence must include' and then list what is included already in the bill.

I believe that this amendment strengthens the legislation by limiting the discretion allowed to the NHMRC Licensing Committee as to the conditions that licences they issue will be subject. That is very important. You just cannot have the licensing committee saying, `We will not bother about requiring certain things,' for example, the number of excess ART embryos whose use is authorised by the licence. This matter has been discussed in the chamber. In fact, Senator Bishop's amendment last night, which was carried, was specifically about the need to restrict the number of human embryos involved. I believe that this amendment strengthens that. It is no good having it just at the discretion of the licensing committee. There is a need to require certain things, including the one that I mentioned. It is also important to have the detail of persons authorised by the licence to use excess ART embryos, and there is a need to have information about a requirement to report what the program or schedule is for monitoring and so on.

I commend the amendment. I hope the government will see its way clear not to leave this to the discretion of a licensing committee. The licensing committee does have nominated people on it, but they are largely from the industry and are very heavily committed to the industry. In those circumstances, it is important that the requirements are legislative requirements rather than at the discretion of the committee.