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Tuesday, 8 March 2005
Page: 136

Senator Stott Despoja asked the Minister representing the Minister for Foreign Affairs, upon notice, on 9 December:

(1)   Will the Minister provide copies of any recommendations, advice or comments received in the past 18 months regarding, or in response to, a proposal put forward by Belgium to the United Nations (UN) on the issue of ‘reproductive’ cloning of people and/or ‘therapeutic’ cloning of human embryos for research into cures for serious diseases.

(2)   When was the department made aware of the Cabinet decisions to support the Belgian proposal on human cloning and consequently the Costa Rican proposal on human cloning at the UN.

Senator Hill (Minister for Defence) —The Minister for Foreign Affairs has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:

(1)   No.

(2)   Australia’s position on the issue of human cloning has been to achieve an outcome consistent with its domestic legislation. At an early stage this looked to be achievable through the Belgian proposal. Australia has never sponsored the Belgian proposal but an indication that Australia might support it was made in 2003. It became clear that the Belgian proposal would not achieve consensus. A decision to support the Costa Rican proposal was made in late 2003 and a decision to co-sponsor it in 2004.

On 18 February 2005, the Sixth Committee of the UN General Assembly (UNGA) adopted a political declaration on human cloning. Australia voted in favour of the declaration which was consistent with our domestic policy. No decision of the UNGA has any necessary effect on Australian law or policy.