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Wednesday, 4 December 2002
Page: 7172

Senator HARRADINE (4:02 PM) —Just to enlighten—if that is the word—the Manager of Government Business as to where we are at, I have moved amendment (7) on sheet 2751 revised. That amendment requires a new clause to be added, and it is listed in the documents that you have before you on page 2751. I believe the amendment would improve accountability and transparency and, of course, it is consistent with paragraph 6.4 of the COAG communique about the need for the system to provide for public reporting of research involving embryos so as to improve transparency and accountability to the public. If we are going to have accountability to the public, I believe that the public is entitled to know and to be able to have a say, even if only by way of submission to the NHMRC Licensing Committee, about the suitability or otherwise of the application for a licence to access excess—and I hate that word but I am using the technical term—ART embryos.

The minister has come back and talked— and it is really a non sequitur—about the history of the assisted reproductive technology of IVF. I did not really understand what that meant, given that my amendment is clearly designed to deal with applications for licences for ART embryos. The response from the minister did not go to the question as to why the public should not have a right or an opportunity to comment on an application. I am proposing this amendment so as to allow 10 working days from the day that the application is placed on the Internet for the receipt of public submissions in relation to the application for a licence. I think that is consistent with COAG and transparency. Through you, Madam Temporary Chair, I am putting that suggestion to the Manager of Government Business: why not allow a period—and I have suggested 10 working days—for the public to make submissions to the NHMRC Licensing Committee about the propriety or otherwise of the proposal?