Page 277 - Week 01 - Thursday, 16 February 2006

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In June 2002, research confirmed that adult stem cells are more effective than embryonic stem cells in blood formation, and a month later Canadian and Japanese scientists saw adult bone marrow cells show significant immune tolerance. The cells were incorporated not only into bone marrow but also into damaged hearts to help in repair.

I could go on, Mr Speaker, but it is clear that the health benefits and potential benefits of adult stem cells as derived from cord blood are significant. I think it is time we reopened the debate. We had a motion in this place in 2003, which was defeated, and it is time we looked again at this issue, at how the ACT, and women in the ACT, can contribute to this rich area of research—an area where there is so much potential, and so much potential benefit for Australians and people around the world. So I put it out there as something we need to talk about again, we need to debate again, in the community. We need to look at the feasibility of this again.


DR FOSKEY (Molonglo) (6.14): Next week, on 23 February, it will be the fourth anniversary of the kidnapping of Ingrid Betancourt. Given that there seems very little we can do to bring her back, I think that at the very least I can give a short speech as an adjournment debate contribution.

At Easter 2001, the Global Greens Conference, the first ever, was held here in Canberra. There were people here from over 70 countries and one of the people who was most impressive to everybody was Ingrid Betancourt. She is a young, married woman who has two children and she is the lifeblood of the Colombian Greens party, which is called Oxygeno-Verde. I do not know how you say it in Spanish.

Ingrid told us at the conference that everywhere she moved in Colombia she had to have bodyguards. However, these were not enough, because on 23 February she and her campaign manager, Clara Rojas, were kidnapped by guerrillas from the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, colloquially known as FARC. At that time, Ingrid was standing as a presidential candidate, which I suppose, while she did not expect to get elected, was a very strong way of getting the Greens’ message of environment and human rights out there. Since 2002, she has been held, along with an estimated 5,600 other hostages. Their last communication via a videocassette was in August 2003, and since then all requests for contact have been refused.

Nonetheless, we believe that Ingrid and Clara are still alive—we have no reason not to believe that—and globally the Greens are campaigning for their liberation. But, of course, their liberation alone is not what Ingrid would want. We believe Ingrid would say that if she is to be freed so should be all the other kidnappees in Colombia.

We all probably know that Colombia is in the grip of a civil war and that the contending forces include guerrilla groups, like the FARC, with armies in the tens of thousands, paramilitaries also armed by the government to counter the guerrillas, and the state’s own armed forces of police and military. All are known to be implicated in human rights abuses. The victims of these are the poor, especially peasant farmers, indigenous people and Afro-Colombians, so there is a racist element to that. Colombia is second only to Sudan in its number of refugees: three million people, half of them under 18 years old,

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