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Thursday, 23 August 1984
Page: 259

Senator SIBRAA —I ask whether the Minister representing the Minister for Health is aware of a petition presented by Senator Boswell, as recorded at page 5 of Senate Hansard of 21 August, which states in part:

1. That a Bill of Rights be not introduced which:

(a) does not provide for the protection of life before death as well as after or

(b) if introduced it makes provision for the protection of life before death or after death.

What medical advances have been made that give the Parliament control over life after death?

Senator GRIMES —I will try to answer the question. I, like many senators, saw the petition in Hansard and was rather interested in it.

Senator Walters —Careful, Senator Grimes.

Senator GRIMES —I am reminded of the words of a former Minister in the House of Representatives, Mr Daly, who said that he did not believe in life after death until he came to the Senate one night. I think Senator Walters has given evidence of that. I do not know of any medical advances which would enable us to legislate in this way. I am pretty sure that the President would agree with me that despite some of the speeches that Senator Walters and Senator Harradine have made in this place, this Parliament has no power to legislate to protect life after death. As I have said, I do not believe that we have any power; I do not know that any medical advances have been made.

It may be that the well-known tendency of the National Party of Australia to encourage people to vote after their death may have something to do with the petition that has been presented by Senator Boswell. I suppose another explanation is that there has been a mistake in the printing. I cannot add anything further than that.