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Monday, 2 December 2002
Page: 6897

Senator PATTERSON (Minister for Health and Ageing) (9:31 PM) —I have been advised that all states and territories currently have legislation that already bans trading in human tissue. I also believe that a number of jurisdictions currently have this legislation under review. I do not know the details of those reviews. When we were having a discussion before, Senator Harradine—and I would not normally disclose discussions but I think it is appropriate to say this—you were concerned that tissue should be treated like blood and not be traded in that sense. I believe that the state and territory legislation banning trading in human tissue covers these concerns and that it is appropriate that that be done at state and territory level.

We also need to remember that up until now the situation was very unclear: different states had different legislation and you could not get a grasp of the legislation. By getting the states to be uniform in their approach, it is much easier to monitor what the states are doing. If a state wants to then change something, to be part of a team and to get other states involved in it, that state will need to come in at that three-year review. I believe it makes this much more open and transparent, rather than having a state doing something without the rest of the country understanding what they are doing. The states have agreed, through COAG, that this is of such importance that we have to have cooperative federalism. Very rarely have we seen this happen, that the states have come to a point where they are prepared to agree to bring state legislation into line. This will make it very obvious if a state steps out of line over trading in human tissue, for example. Before this, it was not as clear. Because of this agreement, I believe we will have a much more transparent system. It will be much easier for the public to be more informed about what is happening, rather than having a state being able to go off on a frolic of its own.