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Thursday, 5 December 2002
Page: 7270

Senator NETTLE (12:41 PM) —The Research Involving Embryos Bill 2002 has raised a lot of emotions for people in here. The Australian Greens have appreciated the opportunity to go through the legislation and propose almost a dozen amendments, which have sought to bring public accountability into this legislation and ensure some safeguards against the privatisation and commercialisation of this industry, particularly by putting some safeguards in to ensure that commercialisation and privatisation do not run rampant. It has been extremely disappointing that we have not had the support of the Senate to get up those accountability measures—in particular, an amendment we voted on recently to say that when this legislation is reviewed the people undertaking the review must consult. Currently, the legislation says they must consult the Commonwealth, the states and a range of people with expertise or experience in the relevant disciplines. The Australian Greens proposed an amendment to say that the public should be consulted in a review of this legislation. That amendment was voted down by this parliament, and there was no opportunity for debate on whether the public should be involved in this review, because the guillotine was applied.

Equally, we were not able to debate a provision to lift the cut-off for embryos in existence at 5 April. We were not able to say that that decision should be made in parliament rather than made by COAG, because the guillotine was applied. I am extremely disappointed by the process that we have followed and the lack of will within the Senate to put forward those sorts of public accountability measures. However, I will be voting for this legislation because I believe that it is appropriate that we have regulation in place rather than, as currently exists in some states, not having regulation in this industry.