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Thursday, 9 December 2004
Page: 5

Senator GEORGE CAMPBELL (9:39 AM) —by leave—Labor's position on this motion is one of broad support but on an issue such as human cloning, which is always accorded a conscience vote in the Labor Party, it is important that our reasons for not giving formal support are outlined.

The Australian system for the regulation and oversight of human cloning and related issues was developed after broad consultation with all the parties involved. Indeed, it was a great example of a bipartisan approach that involved both state and Commonwealth levels of government. The legislation that implemented this approach was approved by the Council of Australian Governments and an act was supported by all political parties after a series of votes on conscience. The system that is now in place and operational will be assessed by a review that is due to begin this month and completed within the next 12 months. It is therefore inappropriate that the Howard government should discard this considered and bipartisan approach without public notification of the United Nations debate and future vote that has international ramifications.

This is why Labor supports the call in this motion for the Howard government to consult with the Council of Australian Governments and with the stakeholders. We also call on the government to be open and frank with the Australian people about why it has apparently dissented from Australia's national position on human cloning in an international forum. However, the subject of this motion is such that Labor is unable to accord the motion formal support.