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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2006 Week 10 (19 October) . . Page.. 3357..


MRS DUNNE (continuing):

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights.

Others assert a different theory of rights. Again, it is not my purpose to disagree with them, but simply to assert that the theory of human rights which forms the cornerstone of the US political system ought not to be completely excluded from consideration in this debate.

That brings me to another philosophical question, Mr Speaker. Many of us have observed that the recent debate on human cloning has not really been a meeting of minds. The opponents have for the most part argued that these are human beings and you cannot create and destroy them at will, whereas the supporters have responded that stem cell research carries the promise of unimaginable medical advances. Is it me, or is there a hint that we are seeking to achieve some sort of bodily immortality? Clearly, these are questions on different levels.

I am sceptical about the claimed benefits and the question of whether we need embryonic stem cells to achieve them. But even if we accept them, we have to consider how we reconcile these arguments. Until fairly recently, most people in society would have held that we do not do the wrong thing to achieve good outcomes, that the means do not always justify the end. That is the view that I hold as a Christian but it is not a uniquely Christian philosophy. Even now, few people would assert the contrary view, that is, consequentialism. Consequentialists prefer to say that good and evil are relative and not absolute terms and imply that using them as if they were absolute terms is old-fashioned. Responsible legislators cannot do that. We have to face up to these questions and we cannot rely on guilt by association or to ignore millennia of calm, rational thinking on questions of morality.

If politicians do, we simply begin to act as though the means justify the ends and we will find ourselves in a world where I do not think we will be happy to be, where people will get away with lying and we will condone torture and imprisonment without trial and order bombings of civilians, all in the cause of good. But will it really be a good cause?

Antipoverty Week

Industrial relations

MR GENTLEMAN (Brindabella) (6.06): I would like to add some comments to Dr Foskey's speech a little while ago about Antipoverty Week. Tuesday, of course, was United Nations International Antipoverty Day. Australia has taken this important initiative one step further and organised a whole week of events surrounding this theme. The issue of poverty in Australia is of great concern to many. A poll conducted by the Australian Council of Social Service revealed that 77 per cent of Australians believe the gap between rich and poor is widening. It is nonsensical that poverty is rising at a time when Australia as a nation is getting richer.

At present, 100,000 Australians are homeless and 300,000 people are long-term unemployed. These figures are of great concern. I also take great issue with the staggering level of poverty experienced by those that are currently engaged in full-time work. The conditions of working Australians are rapidly declining under the federal


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