Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 4 Hansard (10 April) . . Page.. 934 ..
MRS DUNNE (continuing):
This remains the mantra of apologists for cloning, and embryonic stem cell research. We must not put another evil in the way. We must not create another evil by playing God with human beings while chanting the mantra of making things better for science.
MR CORNWELL (4.19): The Chief Minister has, I think, adequately outlined the COAG statement on assisted reproductive technology-or ART-and related matters. He has made the point that it is going to be for a limited time, that there will be checks and balances built in, that an ethics committee will be set up, and that the council will agree to request the National Health Medical Research Council to report within 12 months on the adequacy of supply and distribution, for research, of excess ART embryos which would otherwise have been destroyed.
It seems to me that, if they are going to be destroyed, and can be put to some valuable use, we should give serious consideration to that. Also, of course, if we believe that their use is improper for research, then we should not destroy them at all, should we?
That, I suggest to you, creates more problems than it solves. Therefore, it seems to me that the most sensible approach is to at least attempt to make use of these embryos, that would otherwise be destroyed. I know arguments have been advanced against it. In fact, I would refer to an article by Senator Guy Barnett, a Tasmanian Liberal senator. Whilst he agrees that research on adult stem cells should be continued and encouraged, he draws a line in the sand in relation to ART, and makes what I regard as a rather astounding statement. He says that Australians with disabilities, or those who are not functioning normally, can be affronted by the proposal.
I say one's functioning ability should not determine the level of respect shown, or protection given, to human life. Members, I think that argument can be used in favour of proceeding with the use of these cells, just as much as it can be used against it. In fact, I would think that a great many Australians with disabilities would be extremely affronted if they thought that there would be no further attempt to improve on-not necessarily on their situation-the problems faced by other people, now and in the future, afflicted by the various serious illnesses outlined by the Chief Minister.
As far as I am concerned, I believe there are sufficient built-in safeguards. I would imagine that it will be a contract-in, rather than a contract-out, arrangement. You would have to give permission for the cells to be used, rather than their being used automatically, unless you objected.
I would think that there will be very considerable controls over the whole approach. I do not see some sort of brave new world coming in as a result of this, where we would be cloning people. We live in a civilised society. It is possible to impose rules and regulations that can be instituted, and which will be obeyed.
Ms Tucker: It happened this week!
Mr Pratt: She is right, Greg, it did happen this week.
MR CORNWELL: It could. My colleague says-