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Wednesday, 13 November 2002
Page: 6298


Senator PATTERSON (Minister for Health and Ageing) (9:34 PM) — Mistakenly I thought we had finished the amendments—in vain hope. Having not finished the amendments—I do not know what I was doing thinking we had finished the amendments; I was hoping that we had but we have gone back to amendments (3) and (4)—I suggest that we finish the debate on the bill except for amendments (3) and (4). I hope that by tomorrow morning we will be able to say in more detail what we are prepared to commit to in terms of a possible regulation. I have already indicated that the Prime Minister has made a commitment on export. The problem is the wording of any regulation about imports and, rather than mislead the Senate or make a promise that is impossible to keep, I want more time—I have not had much time out of the chamber today—to look at that. I anticipate that we can finish the bill tomorrow, but this process allows those of us who have some concern about the inconsistency of saying, `We ban cloning, but it's okay to import it,' to further consider the issue. Personally I find that a little difficult and this process will give us time to address that. I have been trying to explore that possibility today. However, Senator Ellison has some amendments and, if that process meets his requirements, he may not want to put his amendments.

It does not often happen in this chamber, but I am saying that the debate last night raised an issue that raised concerns for some of us and I am trying to accommodate that. As I said, it will not meet the desires and goals of the people who feel strongly and who would support Senator Harradine's amendments, but I think it goes some way for those who have concerns. I suggest that, if Senator Harradine is prepared by leave not to move amendments (3) and (4), we proceed with the rest of the committee stage. If we reached the end of the committee stage, other than the debate on Senator Harradine's amendments (3) and (4), I would then move that we report progress and defer the debate to a later hour the next day. I think we should see how we go. However, I agree with Senator Evans that we need to get the bill through at some stage.