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Thursday, 5 December 2002
Page: 7245


Senator PATTERSON (Minister for Health and Ageing) (10:43 AM) —I want to respond by saying that we should go back to appendix 1 of the COAG communique under the heading `A nationally consistent approach to ART'. The Commonwealth is not regulating the ART clinical practice. Who oversees that is very clear under the COAG communique, which reads:

11. Accreditation by the Reproductive Technology Accreditation Committee (RTAC) of the Fertility Society of Australia should provide the basis for a nationally-consistent approach to the oversight of ART clinical practice in Australia, noting that compliance with the NHMRC/AHEC Ethical Guidelines on ART is a key requirement of RTAC accreditation.

12. Individual jurisdictions may choose to mandate RTAC accreditation in legislation or supplement requirements for RTAC accreditation with an additional layer of oversight (for example, through a system of licensing or accreditation of ART service providers).

These clauses were included to close the loophole for the use of embryos that were excess to ART, which we needed to make sure were caught up. Because the states are legislating for excess ART embryos for the purpose of ART, we wanted to cover—and it is here in clause 11—`a human embryo that is not an excess ART embryo'. So it was covering a potential loophole. But the states have the responsibility for overseeing RTAC accreditation. I hope that is clear.

Question agreed to.