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Thursday, 14 November 2002
Page: 6340

Senator HARRADINE (10:27 AM) —First of all, I am getting a bit concerned about the use by Senator Stott Despoja of the term `reproductive cloning'. This bill bans all forms of cloning. Is she saying that there are some forms of cloning—

Senator Stott Despoja —No, I am not, Senator Harradine.

Senator HARRADINE —Senator Stott Despoja, you always deliberately say `reproductive cloning', leaving the gate open for so-called therapeutic cloning, the type of cloning that has been mentioned by Dr Peter Mountford, the chief executive officer of Stem Cell Sciences. He wants to do so-called therapeutic cloning—that means production of human embryo clones so he can commercialise the process within two years by supplying disease-carrying embryonic stem cells from those clones to pharmaceutical companies for drug screening. The process is exactly the same whether you call it reproductive cloning or so-called therapeutic cloning, a term that is completely deceptive so far as its effect on human embryos is concerned—it is hardly therapeutic for the embryo that is cloned or developed for that purpose.

We really have to be quite open as to what we are saying in this debate. Is it a fact, as I suspect it is, that this legislation will pave the way for such cloning by the use of the review system, which will be a private review undertaken by ministerially appointed members? Let us be open as to what we mean.

I want to formally acknowledge—and I hope she is listening—the fact that Senator Patterson is doing a difficult job and she was obviously thinking very deeply about the matter. I understand the situation, and I think she acted in the entirely proper manner and the entirely parliamentary manner to take the opportunity to postpone the clauses so that she could express her views to various people, including the Prime Minister.

We are all after the same approach when it comes to this question of import and export. The clarification made by Senator Ellison, the Minister for Justice and Customs, has also been very much appreciated. Whilst I would like to see this in the legislation, I will nevertheless be looking forward to what comes forward in the amendments to the Customs (Prohibited Imports) Regulations and the Customs (Prohibited Exports) Regulations. I would like the minister to explain again what is meant by that 12 months. When is it likely that these regulations will come into effect?