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Wednesday, 27 June 2018
Page: 4209


Senator BROCKMAN (Western Australia) (18:49): I, too, rise to speak on the Community Affairs References Committee report into mitochondrial donation. I won't traverse the ground that Senator Siewert traversed, except that I, too, will not venture into the detailed science of the matter, because it is extraordinarily complex. I think this issue, firstly, highlighted the severe impact of mitochondrial disease on those who suffer from this genetic disorder. It's truly a debilitating and very confronting genetic disease, as many of the genetic diseases are. I think possibly the difference here is that there is a potential path forward. It is only, at this stage, a potential path forward. It is somewhat prospective. There has been a single child born elsewhere in the world in a very unregulated arena.There is a regime in place in the United Kingdom to allow for a more regulated approach. However, that is yet to see any results in terms of live children born without mitochondrial disease as a result, so it is a very prospective space.

I think the important thing to say, particularly to sufferers of mitochondrial disease, is that we still have a journey to take on this issue. It is a technique that does involve some ethical issues that need to be discussed more broadly in the Australian community rather than just a single Senate inquiry. It is something where there are multiple potential techniques, and I'm sure that, as we progress down this path to consider these issues, probably new techniques will arrive and new approaches will be developed. I think one of the most remarkable things in this space is that the opportunities to treat these rare genetic disorders are opening before us. As they open before us, we—as a parliament, and more so as a community—have to tackle some of those serious ethical issues that are involved.

I join with Senator Siewert in sincerely thanking the secretariat. There was a power of work in this report. I thank Senator Siewert as chair. She did an outstanding job. I thank all colleagues who participated in the report, including Senator Pratt, who has just joined us. I think we worked extremely hard to make sure that we were all able to support the final recommendations and take this potential approach to what is a truly debilitating genetic disease forward to the Australian community.