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Thursday, 5 December 2002
Page: 7249

Senator BROWN (11:04 AM) —I support this amendment to the Research Involving Embryos Bill 2002, because I support the public interest. We must not be frightened of the public interest. Inherent in what Senator Stott Despoja said is a concern that the public interest can be equated with vexatious litigants. Of course it cannot. Vexatious litigants are dealt with under time-honoured standing rules, but I do not think it is valid to exclude the public interest because that may open an avenue to a vexatious litigant who has a bee in their bonnet about the matters we are discussing here. I will always stand for public interest clauses, because I think it is too difficult these days for the public to have access to processes like this that worry them greatly. If there are already provisions for the woman and/or man who have given permission for experimentation on the embryos they have given rise to to have recourse if they find that what they were promised has not happened, there is no harm in repeating it under this section. Here, again, we have a wariness coming from those who oppose this point of view that the public is going to get too involved in this matter. My wariness is that the commercial interests are going to be too controlling. For goodness sake, ought not the public interest test be legitimately upheld under these circumstances? I think it should.