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Wednesday, 6 December 2006
Page: 35

Mr KATTER (11:33 AM) —I am very amused listening to the people who are advocating the Prohibition of Human Cloning for Reproduction and the Regulation of Human Embryo Research Amendment Bill 2006, such as the last speaker, the member for Dunkley. There is a wonderful quote at the end of the movie Young Einstein, where Young Einstein says: ‘This is very scary, this e=mc². We’ll have to give it to the government, because only the government could be trusted not to use it for evil purposes.’ There are scenes in the background of hydrogen explosions taking place, which are seen by the audience. That was the image that leapt to my mind when I heard the cant hypocrisy and extreme intellectual featherweight material we have heard continuously today.

We have had a lot of people acting very pious, and in the rough country where I come from there is a great saying that when your neighbour starts preaching religion, that is when you start reaching for your branding iron. That is what I was thinking about today when we had them all telling us we are really safe with this embryonic research and saying, ‘I’m doing it because I believe in my country and because it’ll save the world.’

It is very interesting to look at the English language from some 25 years ago and to look at it today. The generation that I belong to, those who thought about things and read about things, read two books—Nineteen Eighty-Four and Brave New World. They represented the great fear syndrome that a thinking person could clearly see arising. If you cast your mind back, in Nineteen Eighty-Four the world was divided up into Oceania, Eastasia and Eurasia, and it has actually taken place today with NAFTA and the European Union. Those things are all reality.

In Nineteen Eighty-Four, the government is all-powerful—Alexis de Tocqueville and John Stuart Mill had an awful lot to say about excessive government and the tyranny of the majority and just how excessive government would be in a democracy—and in taking the story to its conclusion, a lot of words from the book have become part of the English language. ‘Orwellian spectre’ is a term you often hear used and you will often read, and it refers to George Orwell’s book Nineteen Eighty-Four.

In Nineteen Eighty-Four we had the word ‘doublethink’—you actually had to believe what the government was telling you—and we had ‘doublespeak’, which meant that the word actually meant the opposite of what it was supposed to mean or in fact we just simply created a new meaning for the word. Here, what was ‘embryonic cloning’ is now ‘somatic cell nuclear transfer’. To quote from an article I have here from Nature magazine:

The word ‘embryonic cloning’ has negative connotations and therefore we should change the name.

The word ‘homosexual’ was deleted—and that is fair enough—but they took the word ‘gay’. I remember getting an A for senior English. They said language creates an image. One of the best images in the English language was in the famous poem, Rape of the Lock, where:

Belinda smiled, and all the World was gay.

It conjured up a very graphic and wonderful image that leapt to your mind—and a very clear image. But, of course, that word was taken by homosexual people to describe themselves—they were to rebadge themselves: ‘We’re all gay people. That is really wonderful.’ As I say, they are free to change their name, but they should not be free to take a wonderful word from the English language and pervert it to their own selfish ends.

I still use the terms ‘madam chairman’ or ‘chairman’, whatever the case may be, but now of course it is ‘chairperson’. I am just wondering how long before a ‘person’ becomes a ‘perdaughter’! Clearly this must be where this ridiculousness ends up. No-one ever thought because you were a chairman you were automatically a man.

I have dealt lightly about these things, but movies, some of them described as horror movies—Brave New World, Blade Runner, Frankenstein—reflect a fear element in our psyche that has been tapped by Hollywood on many occasions. We are frightened of the mad doctor syndrome—Jekyll and Hyde, if you like, or Frankenstein’s monster, which is more pertinent to this debate. We are scared of it and quite rightly scared as human beings of the sort of ‘brave new world’ where clones are created as servants to the powerful classes and we have various strata of society cloned to meet the needs of the marketplace.

I do not mind people in this debate stretching the truth, but I really do get a little bit upset in this place sometimes. The only occasion when my honourable colleague, the member for New England, asked me to leave was an occasion when the debate was going fine and the other side were having their say about something we disagreed violently with. But when they started telling lies I got very angry.

Today, speaker after speaker has told us that this embryo, which they choose to call a ‘somatic cell nuclear transfer product’ will not become a human being. That is what they have said. There is not one single scientific resource that I have been able to access that does not say that that will happen, albeit many will fall by the wayside. But if you put A with B you will end up with a human being, so long as something does not destroy it along the way. When you say, ‘This will not create a human being,’ the substance of what you are saying is a flagrant lie. Dolly was created from this technology. They set out to create a sheep and they created a sheep. It just so happened in this case that the sheep died soon afterwards because of the imperfections that were involved in what was being done.

If you put A and B together here you will get a human being, albeit that a lot of these embryonic stem cells might die along the way. But all of us start life as little human beings and very few of us reach 95, because we die along the way. But when we start off as a human being we still hope that we end up as a human being. Everybody knows that we will end up as a human being. Similarly, here, this embryo starts as an embryonic human being and it will end up as a human being. It may be that there are a lot of things that kill it along the way, but similarly with the human as it emerges from its mother. They are telling lies when they say, ‘This is not creating a human being.’

The second lie that they have constantly perpetrated in this parliament is that there is no other option. If you use an embryonic stem cell it is pluripotent—it does not have a very definitive DNA template stamp upon it. It may become anything. It may become rogue cells or cancer. It is on its way to being a human being, but we do not know what side track it may take, because of the way that it has been formed. We do not know that. That is why they say to us; ‘We want to have embryonic stem cells, because it is not DNA definitive.’ If that is the case, why can’t you use animal stem cells? If that is your argument—that it is not distinctively delineating and DNA templating—then why can’t you use animal cells that are also not distinctively DNA templating and delineating? So it is a lie to say they have no other alternatives.

If the DNA determination and delineation or templating—or nonpluripotent or whatever expression you want to use—is the reality then you can use adult stem cells. So to say that there is no other option is nothing more than a lie.

But I thought what was extremely distasteful was speakers in this place getting up and using heartbreak arguments about some person dying from a terrible disease. In other words, all the people opposing this bill are dastardly people who want to see these poor people continue to die these terrible deaths and somehow we have some spiritual belief system that obviates scientific objectivity.

Those of us who do have some spiritual beliefs are getting a little sick and tired of this sort of rubbish coming from people. Every time we assert a non-personal, non-self belief—or whatever term you want to use—we are accused of being antiscience and off in fairytale land. I would have thought the idea of an ‘uncaused cause-god’, if you like, is a hell of a lot more logical than saying, ‘All of this descended from a firecracker going off some time in the past.’ And that is the proposition that is put forward continuously by our opponents in this area.

For those that like to read a little bit of history, I have this to say. When I was down and out for three months I did a lot of reading. There were three books that categorised what they termed the most important people in human history, and there were two other books that defined the greatest breakthroughs in science and the greatest scientists. But on each of those lists, whether it was the greatest person, greatest scientific breakthroughs or greatest scientist, were Voltaire, the father of electricity; Galileo, the father of science; Mendel, the father of genetics and biology; Einstein, the father of nuclear science; and Pasteur, often referred to as the greatest man in history. I think Pasteur came in fourth on the register of whom they consider to be the greatest man in history, but he will often come in at the top of the list of the greatest scientists in human history.

Each of these men is defined as having made the modern scientific world, and each of them unashamedly asserted spiritual beliefs—beliefs beyond what our opponents would call the scientific realm. These were the world’s greatest scientists. In comparison, Robyn Williams, a champion of our opponents, is an intellectual and scientific pygmy of enormous proportions. You would need a microscope to find him if you were doing a scientific analysis and putting him beside these giants.

Voltaire said that if there was no god then you would have to invent one. Galileo, of course, was tortured by the Christianity of the day. There were no different religions then; there was only the Christian religion in those days. He was tortured by certain people undoubtedly associated with the Christian church of the day. But he only existed as a scientist because the de Medici family had financed him; they were his patrons. In fact, they had been his mentors, and he only existed as a scientist because of the de Medici family, who were the papacy in Rome for those same 50 years. So I would hardly use Galileo as part of the argument.

Einstein said: ‘I want to know God’s thought. The rest is detail.’ Mendel, of course, was a monk. He lived in a monastery. He was a religious. After Pasteur made his discovery and saved many lives—probably one in four of us would not be here now if it was not for Pasteur, his inoculations and his breakthroughs—people asked, ‘What mountains do you have left to climb?’ and he said, ‘My greatest ambition has not yet been achieved, and that is to achieve the simple Christian faith of a Breton fisherwoman.’ So here were the giants of science, and the other side of this argument continuously disparage us with their nonspecific but continuous attack that we somehow have emotional and spiritual attachments that are not logical or objective. So listen to what the great scientists of history say.

In conclusion, there are beliefs that have sanctions. The Hindu religion says that you cannot kill a cow, and there are very good reasons for a society to ban the killing of the cow. The cow is your tractor in a poor country. The cow is source of calves in a poor country. So the tractor factory is the cow. The tractor factory is also the food factory, the source of milk and meat—food. The killing of the cow was the original sanction. Our own first Australian people had debil-debil country. Let us have a look at that debil-debil country. Black Mountain, out the back of Cooktown, is alive with poisonous snakes. The reason it was debil-debil country was that if you went up there you had a very good chance of dying. The Quinkans that come out of Mount Fox and spear you are obviously a reference to the volcanic era of about 8,000 to 10,000 years ago. These sanctions were there to prevent people from going into a situation which was extremely dangerous for the survival of the race. At Ingham, they have the water from mountain to mountain from double floods in the upper and lower Herbert. The entire coastal plain would go under water, so it was a debil-debil area as well.

So what I am saying is that, in human history, we have built our belief systems around certain survival elements that we need—certain beliefs which are relevant to the survival of us as a race of people. One of those things built in is that mad scientists cannot go running around creating humans for their own nefarious purposes. Let there be no doubt in anyone’s mind that the motivation for so many things is money. As my worthy colleague the member for Calare said in this place concerning the debate on this previously, the appeal of creating humans for the sake of meeting market demands does not appeal to me. I think those are the reasons intelligent people would shy very much away from the proposal that is being put forward to the House.

There are those that say the protections that are built into this act are going to protect it. But you will see incremental change. We will be back in this place saying that the 14 days should be extended to a month, then to two months and then to six months. You can absolutely count on that incremental change taking place there. Every time, the arguments that will be put up will be exactly the same as the arguments that have been put up to date. They would have some veracity—except that underlying each of the major arguments here is a lie: (1) that these embryos will not become human beings, and (2) that there are no other options. Of course there are other options in carrying out this research. I will most be certainly opposing the bill.