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Stem cell legislation is this Parliament's legacy.

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Media Release The Hon Ian Macfarlane MP Minister for Industry, Tourism and Resources

  22 August 2002 02/157


STEM CELL LEGISLATION IS THIS PARLIAMENT'S LEGACY   Industry Minister Ian Macfarlane has told his colleagues that the Parliament 's ultimate decision on the current Research Involving Embryos legislation is their legacy for future generations. It will dictate the moral decisions their children and grand-children will be forced to confront.

"It is the responsibility of this Parliament to develop a national framework for the use of embryonic stem cells that is comprehensive, rigorous and transparent," Mr Macfarlane said during a second reading of the legislation.

"This Bill offers a strong regime to enforce criminal penalties for unacceptable practices like cloning, it will monitor research on excess embryos and set up a national licensing body to assess all work applications," he said.

"Australia can choose to turn its back on this research but that won 't stop it from continuing in countries which have a far more liberal attitude towards stem cell use."

"I dread the day when an Australian family is placed in the invidious position of having to chose between using a treatment developed overseas in a void of ethical regulation or watching their child suffer."

"The whole reason for research is to discover what is possible - we must explore both streams of research, adult and embryonic. If we don't, the secret to saving a life may remain undiscovered. But let�s do it in Australia under our own rules rather than leave this research to others who have a more malleable approach to science."

"I am yet to hear an argument that adequately explains the difference between allowing the cells to perish on a laboratory benchtop, as they certainly will, and using them in potentially life-saving research," he said.

The University of Adelaide calculates that Australia presently contributes about 25% of the world 's research on stem cells, compared with a contribution of about 2.5% of the world�s research generally.

Under the legislation, creating, importing or exporting a human clone will be punishable by 15 years imprisonment and/or a $99,000 fine for an individual and $495,000 for a corporation.

Media Contact:  Kirsty Boazman, Minister Macfarlane's office, 02 6277 7580 or 0412 171 444   CMR02-213  

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