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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 4 Hansard (10 April) . . Page.. 926..


MR STANHOPE (continuing):

replace damaged cells and tissues in animal studies. To cut off research in this field is to cut off hope for a better, healthier society.

In saying all that, and in indicating my support for embryonic stem cell research for all the reasons stated, I am, of course, as each of us is, acutely aware of the difficult ethical and moral issues and dilemmas raised in this discussion, in relation to many of the reproductive technologies, and certainly in relation to experimentation on embryos.

The position put by all those who support embryonic stem cell research acknowledges that the embryos that would be utilised for this research have been created for another purpose-namely, IVF-but are excess to the requirements of the particular IVF intervention or application, and would, in any event, be destroyed.

In relation to a discussion of this issue, it is important to be aware of the basis and circumstances surrounding the proposals. The proposal is that the embryos were created by a couple for the purposes of IVF but, for whatever reason-that the IVF has proceeded or that it is not to proceed-the embryos are surplus to requirements, and, as surplus embryos, they are fated to be destroyed.

The position put is that, if they are going to be destroyed in any event, and there is a particularly valid and potentially extremely significant outcome from the possibility of research, that opportunity should be grasped; however, it needs to be grasped in an acknowledgment of the tough ethical and moral position, decisions, or circumstances. I think due regard has been given to that in the proposals COAG is now supporting.

Additional riders were put on the position put to COAG by its officers, through an incredibly detailed paper. They set out, in fine detail, the circumstances that would pertain to the particular research. They were: that the research would be subject to stringent ethical guidelines; that every research institution would be accredited; that it would be monitored by the National Health and Medical Research Council, and that it would be monitored by the prime and principal ethics organisations in Australia. All of those stringent requirements were to be made.

I have supported the prospect of this research progressing. I think it is important to note that every Australian jurisdiction was represented at COAG. They all acknowledged that, in each of the parliaments in which legislation would be brought, the proposal was that the Commonwealth pass legislation in relation to stem cell research on embryos. It is legislation that will be mirrored in each of the states and territories. It has been acknowledged that, in every jurisdiction, a conscience vote, certainly on behalf of the Labor Party, will prevail. My understanding is that that will also be the situation in relation to the Liberal Party.

In accordance with the arrangements made at COAG, legislation will be prepared, and put to parliaments, to permit the utilisation of embryonic stem cells under the most rigorous guidelines.

MRS CROSS (3.53): I would like to thank the Chief Minister for his compassion and understanding. I thank you, Mr Speaker. I apologise to the chamber for not finishing this earlier.


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