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Wednesday, 4 December 2002
Page: 7182

Senator STOTT DESPOJA (5:12 PM) —The Australian Democrats will not be supporting Senator Harradine's amendment. Clause 26 allows the licensing committee to revoke a licence if a licence condition has been breached. We have discussed or alluded to that on a number of occasions during the committee stage of this bill. This amendment is obviously intended to add an additional criterion for revoking the licence, in relation to this notion of `insignificant or no advances in knowledge or improvement in technologies for treatment'.

I understand the intention behind this. I would certainly describe it as well intended, but I suspect that, scientifically, it is potentially naive. Any judgments on the results that are obtained may not be assessable before that project is completed. And how do we make a determination as to whether or not the results constitute a significant advance in knowledge? I think that is incredibly difficult. This is a very difficult provision, in a scientific sense, to apply to the licensing committee. On a practical note, by the time the lab work is complete and written up, the licence probably will have expired anyway. There are problems with this amendment. While I acknowledge the intention behind it, I think that it is a very difficult thing to assess in practical terms and, once again, I am sure that our views as to what constitutes a significant advancement could vary substantially as well.