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Liberal Senator says call to lift cloning ban is likely to divide the Party.



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AM

 

Tuesday 20 December 2005

Liberal Senator says call to lift cloning ban is likely to divide the Party

 

TONY EASTLEY: The former judge John Lockhart is right to expect a stro ng reaction to his committee's calls for the lifting of the ban on cloning human cells for scientific research. 

 

It's an issue likely to reveal sharp divides, for instance, amongst senior Liberals in the Federal Government. 

 

One backbencher who's opposed to cloning of any sort is the Liberal Senator from Tasmania, Guy Barnett. 

 

He's speaking to Peta Donald, who asked him if former judge Lockhart and the committee was right to be mainly concerned with alleviating human suffering. 

 

GUY BARNETT: Yes, and that's a laudable objective. I think we all should support that objective, but it needs to be balanced, and science and research needs to be done within ethical and moral boundaries that are agreed by the community and by the members of Parliament, and that's a job that I have, is to try and get that balance right. 

 

PETA DONALD: But isn't the former judge, John Lockhart, only being reasonable and reflecting those community ideas when he says that, you know, while human life is paramount and he's very conscious of the right to life, he's also very concerned for those who suffer from diseases that could be cured by research? 

 

GUY BARNETT: With respect to cloning, I think he's got it entirely wrong. That's a recommendation I don't support in the review. There are a lot of things that are very helpful and informative in terms of the report prepared by Mr Lockhart, but in terms of the support and recommendation for cloning, no I certainly don't support that, and I don't believe it's consistent with community views as well. 

 

PETA DONALD: Why do you believe he's got it wrong on human cloning? 

 

GUY BARNETT: Because less than three years ago the Australian Parliament, without dissent, supported a ban on cloning, both so-called therapeutic cloning and reproductive cloning. The legislation is in law, it has been there for three years, and I hope it remains so. 

 

PETA DONALD: Well he only wants the ban on therapeutic cloning to be lifted, that's human cloning for scientific research. 

 

GUY BARNETT: Sure, that's exactly right, and … 

 

PETA DONALD: Do you think there'll be any support for that? 

 

GUY BARNETT: There may be some support for it, and that's why there's a measured and considered and cautious response to the report and its recommendations, in my view, is merited, but I also have a view that we soundly said there should be a ban on cloning, because cloning is cloning is cloning, and this so-called therapeutic cloning is in fact that, it is cloning. 

 

PETA DONALD: Well don't you think the guidelines could be put in place to make sure it remains as just therapeutic cloning? 

 

GUY BARNETT: Ah, well you call therapeutic cloning. So-called therapeutic cloning is actually cloning, and I'm not sure that the community would wish to support that, because in my view the ends does not justify the means, and life applies within strict boundaries, and I think this is pushing the boundary too far, and I don't support it, and I don't believe that the community would wish to support it either, although there is indeed a laudable objective to try and find cures for some of life's terrible diseases. 

 

TONY EASTLEY: Tasmania's Liberal Senator Guy Barnett talking to Peta Donald in Canberra.