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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 04 Hansard (Tuesday, 20 April 2021) . . Page.. 883 ..


children who are born as a result of ART. Everybody who has contributed to this debate has made extremely valid points about why it is so important to ensure that we have a good look at our legislative framework and regulation of the industry to ensure that we do have contemporary arrangements. That is what the review that the motion calls for will do.

It is also important that the motion recognises the consideration currently being given in the commonwealth parliament to laws that would allow for the introduction of mitochondrial donation. As members would be aware, mitochondrial disease is an umbrella term for a myriad of illnesses that can result from when a child inherits a mitochondrial genetic defect. Issues which affect the mitochondria can have significant consequences for the entire body. Muscle, brain, heart and lung function can all be severely impacted.

Mitochondrial donation, of course, is a new assisted reproductive technology which can help some parents to avoid transmitting mitochondrial DNA disease to their biological children. The term collectively refers to a number of specific techniques aimed at ensuring that only healthy mitochondrial DNA is passed on to an embryo. Used in conjunction with in-vitro fertilisation, mitochondrial donation techniques allow for an embryo to be produced using material containing nuclear DNA from a man and woman and the mitochondria in an egg donated by another woman.

This approach minimises the risk of transmission of the abnormal mitochondria from the mother to her child. It means that children who would otherwise be born with an inherited genetic condition and have either a terminal or an utterly debilitating condition might be able to avoid that circumstance. It has been reported that members of the commonwealth parliament will have a conscience vote on the proposed bill. We recognise, again, the sensitivity in relation to a number of these matters. I commend Dr Paterson for her foresight in including this in her motion and looking to ensure that the ACT is prepared for future technological changes and has the time now to consider the impacts in a measured and ordered way.

I also want specifically to acknowledge the issue that Mr Steel raised in relation to historic donor anonymity. I think his point about that needing to be included in the review was very well made, and his broader points about the human rights of children born as a result of ART. More broadly, I thank Dr Paterson for highlighting this important service and bringing this motion forward to the Assembly to ensure that the services provided in the territory are delivering for individuals and families. We will be supporting the motion.

DR PATERSON (Murrumbidgee) (4.46), in reply: I wish to thank colleagues in the Assembly for their support for this motion calling on the ACT government to review the available support and regulatory services for assisted reproductive technology in the ACT. The debate that has ensued has demonstrated significant interest in the topic and has reinforced the need for the ACT government review. This is a very important matter which I believe will bring significant improvements for individuals and couples involved with ART services in the ACT.


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