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Friday, 22 March 1985
Page: 680

Senator HARRADINE(3.11) —The annual report of the National Health and Medical Research Council details matters relating to that Council. The Council provides funds for a number of areas. Many are quite important matters for consideration and funding and fall within the normal guidelines that have been determined by Parliament as being appropriate. However, I point to a particular area for which funds have been made available by the National Health and Medical Research Council. I refer to the area of experimentation. The National Health and Medical Research Council provides funds for:

Further studies of the lipid composition of human and rodent gamete cell membranes and attempts to modify their composition may lead to a successful technique for inducing the fusion and incorporation of human spermatozoa into zona-free rodent ova.

Putting aside all the technicalities, that means applying human sperm to animal ova. If we, as a society, not only allow this sort of activity but also provide funds for it, there will be grave and serious implications for society. I will guarantee that nobody in this chamber would be aware that that experimentation is proceeding or, indeed, that we are providing funds for such processes to be adopted. I doubt very much whether anybody in the other House would be aware of that fact. I am confident in assuming that the Government itself would be unaware of the situation, yet the National Health and Medical Research Council provides funds for such experimentation.

I raise this matter now because I intend to do something about it. I give notice to the Senate of my intention to bring in a Bill to amend the principal legislation governing the National Health and Medical Research Council. I will also request that that be made an urgent Bill so that these matters can be faced fairly and squarely.

Senator Peter Baume —What will you have in the Bill?

Senator HARRADINE —The honourable senator will know that soon enough. The Bill will provide the Senate with the opportunity to consider the very important social issues which surround this matter. We are dealing with very fundamental questions of human rights. We are dealing with fundamental questions of the dignity of the human species. We cannot allow to emerge a situation whereby taxpayers' funds are provided for experimentation in this sort of area. Indeed, we have a responsibility, as a Parliament representing a society with cohesive values, not to allow the sort of extension of this sort of experimentation which allows for human sperm to be matched with animal ova. I do not wish to fire all my shots in answer to Senator Baume today. I have many more in my locker. I hope that by the time the next session arrives I will have a Bill ready for the Senate to consider.

The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Elstob) —Order! The honourable senator's time has expired.