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Thursday, 14 November 2002
Page: 6358

Senator STOTT DESPOJA (12:18 PM) —In addition to some of the more informal discussions that are occurring around the chamber, I will make a brief comment on the record. I think Senator Evans made some very appropriate points. Firstly, I make it clear, as I have done in informal discussions, that I will not be supporting the move to insert these changes into the `Object of Act' clause. Notwithstanding the vigorous debate and the convincing arguments that have been put forward, I do not think it is an appropriate place for such an insertion if you want to make reference to limiting or restricting the number of embryos.

I do think the purported inconsistency between the COAG communique and the legislation is an area that deserves attention, and that vibe has certainly been picked up by most people in the chamber. I certainly do take to heart Senator Evans's point that the exciting aspect of conscience votes in this chamber is that we are forced to think about individual amendments and bits of legislation and also that we get robust debate and need convincing. Sometimes we need very strong counterargument too. I appeal to the government and to advisers to consider that if there are questions such as, `Why is there a distinction between the COAG information and the legislation with which we are dealing?' and these issues have not been sufficiently explored at the committee stage or we have not had a response that has satisfied some members of the parliament, and if there is a good reason why there is an inconsistency and that is explained to the chamber, there are people who are more than happy to be swayed by those counterarguments, inasmuch as we are prepared to listen to and be swayed by the amendments before the chair as well.

My position in relation to changes to the `Object of Act' clause has not changed. We will not be supporting that proposed amendment, and that has been conveyed privately and now. Secondly, if over the coming weeks, as Senator Evans has suggested, the government would like to provide a different or enhanced rationale but at the same time other members of the Senate would like to look into whether there is an appropriate place to discuss this issue and make changes—certainly section 21 of the bill has been proposed as a possible area for amendment—let us do that. Let us use the next two weeks to resolve some of these outstanding issues. That would give us a better chance to look at all of these amendments in detail and then hopefully on 2 December whip through this bill—

Senator Hogg —Whip!

Senator STOTT DESPOJA —Let us be honest then: we will probably spend all night working very hard on this legislation in the hope that we can get a regulatory system and scheme up and running that also solves all of our concerns and aspirations.