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Thursday, 14 November 2002
Page: 6349

Senator BOSWELL (Leader of the National Party of Australia in the Senate and Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Transport and Regional Services) (11:21 AM) —I will be brief. I have read the amendment and it is absolutely consistent with what COAG want. COAG have said that they want the minimum use of embryos. They have also said that, if the Research Involving Embryos Bill 2002 is to proceed, they want it done with the minimum use of embryos. We were told in the Senate Community Affairs Legislation Committee on a number of occasions that an additional 50 to a couple of hundred embryos would be required. I think we have 70,000 embryos in storage at the moment. I do not know how many of those would be able to be brought into use, but they are available. It also brings back to the parliament the right, every 12 months, to review the findings of what is happening. Senator Bishop's amendment proposes:

(3) The NHMRC Licensing Committee must cause a report to be tabled in either House of Parliament on or before:

(a) 30 June of each year;

(b) 31 December of each year ...

I think these amendments are very necessary. We are the people who are passing this legislation. We do not have the right to wash our hands of it and just say, `We've passed it,' or, `We've amended it. Therefore, we don't ever want to follow what is happening thereafter.' We should have the right—and it is not only our right but our responsibility on this very important issue involving ethics, business and a number of other issues—to monitor these reports and see what is happening after 12 months as a result of this bill. I cannot think of one reason why this amendment should not be carried. It is a good amendment, a lot of thought has gone into it, it has been argued well by both sides of the house; and I certainly give it my support.