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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 13 Hansard (27 November) . . Page.. 4791..


Human Cloning and Embryo Research Bill 2003

Mr Corbell , pursuant to notice, presented the bill and its explanatory statement.

Title read by clerk.

MR CORBELL (Minister for Health and Minister for Planning) (10.58): I move:

That this bill be agreed to in principle.

I am pleased to introduce the Human Cloning and Embryo Research Bill 2003. This bill forms the ACT component of the nationally consistent scheme to prohibit human cloning and regulate research involving excess human embryos agreed to at the Council of Australian Governments meeting on 5 April 2002. The COAG decision was informed by close analysis of the central ethical, social, legal and moral issues that are relevant to this matter.

The Commonwealth Prohibition of Cloning Act 2002 and the Research Involving Human Embryos Act 2002 provide the framework for the national scheme and were assented to on 19 December 2002. The ACT government and other states and territories were involved in the extensive consultation process undertaken on the Commonwealth legislation. Input focused on the development and implementation of the national scheme and how it could be best facilitated.

This bill is consistent with the Commonwealth legislation. A single Commonwealth bill was presented to the House of Representatives, then split during debate and passed as two acts. The ACT bill is presented as a single bill. I believe that the prohibition of human cloning and the regulation of research on human embryos represent issues requiring equal moral and ethical consideration and can be dealt with effectively within one bill.

As previously stated, the bill that I put before members today forms part of a national scheme to effectively ban human cloning. It also prohibits a range of other practices, including the creation of hybrid embryos and commercial trading in human reproductive material not considered safe or ethical. The bill makes it an offence, with a maximum prison term of 15 years, for a person to create a human embryo clone.

The bill also supports the establishment of a comprehensive national regulatory system to govern the use of excess assisted reproductive technology embryos. Under the scheme, researchers and scientists proposing to undertake work on excess assisted reproductive technology embryos will be required to meet strict criteria and obtain a licence.

The Victorian, Queensland, South Australian and New South Wales parliaments have already passed nationally consistent legislation to support the COAG scheme. Relevant legislation has been introduced into the Western Australian parliament and is expected to be introduced into the Northern Territory parliament before the end of the year.


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