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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2006 Week 10 (19 October) . . Page.. 3356..


DR FOSKEY (continuing):

I am sure most people are familiar with the work of Winnunga Nimmityjah, but what is really remarkable is that it is recognised that if a person presents with a health problem they are very likely to have a whole range of other issues to be dealt with, too. That is how Winnunga Nimmityjah works; it works with the whole person and it advocates for them if they are homeless, missing out on Centrelink pensions and so on. This is exactly the sort of service that we need and, as Julie Tongs said, it is a model that could be replicated in other jurisdictions.

Aileen Blackburn talked about her life and said about education that it is important for Aboriginal people to help them to advance themselves so that they can get work and so on, but it is not as simple as that. She struggled very hard to get an education and she has watched all her cousins, sisters and brothers struggle at schools where they basically have not been welcome. I think the lesson I got from that is that, particularly in relation to Narrabundah primary school, which has a very high level of indigenous children and is a school where they are actually happy to go to school, if you achieve that you have achieved a great deal. That community at the moment is fighting to maintain the structure of its school as it is because merging with a school that is so different and the loss of its principal, its own P&C and its school board would be very devastating for that school. (Time expired.)

Stem cell research and cloning

MRS DUNNE (Ginninderra) (6.01): Mr Speaker, members will be aware that the federal parliament is scheduled to debate stem cell research and whether it should be extended into the area of human cloning. The opinion pages and letters pages of major newspapers and a range of media panel discussions have put the argument that this is a matter of science and those of us with views based on religion should either play no part or argue from a position other than our own.

In the first place, the debate about stem cell research and cloning conflates a couple of ideas. One is about the beginning of life and the other is a question of rights. On the former, this is generally a scientific question. It is quite a simple one. It is clear from the moment of conception, whether natural or artificial, that a separate human individual is brought into being. Whether it survives or not is a matter of chance. In general, this will be a genetically unique individual, although in the case of cloning or identical twinning, this will not be the case.

Then there is the vexing question of what rights this individual acquires and when. One thing that is clear about that is that this is not a scientific question and therefore not one best left to scientists. Researchers may map the human genome, but no amount of work with a microscope can discover a human right. Nor for that matter is it fundamentally a question of law. This is a question squarely in the area of philosophy.

For those of us who believe in human rights, there is the question of their origin. Like most people in human history who have been interested in this question, I believe that human rights are divine in origin. Most of you will be familiar with the declaration in the US Declaration of Independence which says:


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