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Thursday, 14 November 2002
Page: 6339

Senator JACINTA COLLINS (10:24 AM) —I made an earlier contribution on this issue, and I have a concern in relation to consistency—although I would probably use the stronger word of `hypocrisy'—if we were to go down the path of having this position of being prepared to have a general and, as we have been told by the political debate and by COAG, strong ban and then allow, or perhaps encourage, similar behaviour internationally by preparedness to accept the products of that behaviour into the country. I would firstly like to commend the Minister for Health and Ageing. I know that the advice she received through our normal processes was contrary to the position that is now being developed, and she should be commended for being prepared to take on that issue and take it to the Prime Minister. I hope that that will be characteristic of what will happen with some of the other issues that we are likely to have to work through in the next bill as well.

I indicate firstly, though, that I am generally happy with the proposal that the government has put to resolve this issue. However, if Senator Harradine is persisting with his amendments I will maintain support of those, for one main reason, which relates to my comments on this issue the other day. We had the situation in Victoria where we had a strong ban on research on embryos and Professor Trounson was able to utilise a loophole to import embryonic stem cells from Singapore into Australia. His ability to do that has been used by some as a reason—not necessarily the complete reason—for no longer maintaining that ban in Victoria. I have already made the point that it was perhaps difficult within the Victorian jurisdiction to deal with the importation issue, particularly in a national environment which was void of regulation or legislation in other states. But I prefer to see a clear message on this issue within this legislation, if that is at all achievable.

I understand what the government have done, and I commend them for finding a solution to this issue but, because of the history of what occurred in Victoria, I prefer the instrument that is dealing with a ban on cloning to indicate in its full strength, clarity and consistency our position on banning and to highlight the fact that there is no hypocrisy, that there is a ban on cloning and to not involve an acceptance of that practice, whether it be in Australia or overseas.