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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2008 Week 04 Hansard (Tuesday, 8 April 2008) . . Page.. 1078 ..


Question put:

That proposed new clause 16A be agreed to.

The Assembly voted—

Ayes 6

Noes 7

Mrs Burke

Mr Pratt

Mr Barr

Mr Gentleman

Mrs Dunne

Mr Smyth

Mr Berry

Mr Hargreaves

Dr Foskey

Mr Corbell

Ms MacDonald

Mr Mulcahy

Ms Gallagher

Question so resolved in the negative.

Proposed new clause 16A negatived.

Clauses 17 to 36, by leave, taken together and agreed to.

Proposed new clause 36A.

DR FOSKEY (Molonglo) (11.50): I move amendment No 1 circulated in my name which inserts a new clause 36A [see schedule 2 at page 1160].

This amendment is a very simple one. It introduces a sunset clause following the commonwealth review of these acts. This is to ensure that the Assembly reconsiders the ethics and the impact of this legislation and the research activity that it allows.

While the matter of what constitutes a person or when a human life is said to exist cannot, I believe, be concretely established, I am prepared to acknowledge that some of the possibilities for research and testing that could be permitted under this legislation can be seen in a disturbing light. It is very hard to know where this legislation will end up. So, rather than vote against the legislation, which is part of a national project—and the vote would have no long-term effect even if it were successful—it makes sense, I believe, to put a sunset clause in the bill so that the Assembly will have to re-engage with the issues when a few years have passed and after a full review of this act and the two commonwealth acts that govern the research.

On complex moral and ethical issues there are never, ever straightforward or easy answers. There is, or needs to be, an ongoing process of engagement. The Greens have been convinced that this research is both valuable and responsible, but it is also dealing with matters that could have profound consequences. Indeed, it goes to the heart of the place of humans in the world. It should not be too great an inconvenience to those members of the Assembly who wish to support this legislation also to support this amendment in order to ensure that, as MLAs, we take ongoing responsibility for our actions.

It is always a challenge when it comes to taking profound ethical or philosophic decisions through the vehicle of an intergovernmental agreement. I understand from


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