Page 1001 - Week 03 - Thursday, 3 April 2008
be before we actually get to a situation where we can keep them going a bit longer? As Mr Mulcahy said, what is so magical about 14 days? When will it become 21 days and when will it become 28 days et cetera, et cetera? When will it become acceptable? When will it become acceptable to take an embryo that has been created with three parents, implant it and bring it to full gestation?
The first amendment adds a new section 11A. It says:
A person commits an offence if—
(a) the person intentionally creates or develops a human embryo by a process other than the fertilisation … and
(b) the human embryo contains genetic material provided by more than 2 people.
As it stands, new section 11 says that it is an offence to do this by fertilisation. What we do not do is make it absolutely clear that there is no means by which a person, a scientist, a doctor, should be allowed to create a human embryo that contains the genetic material of more than two people.
You have to actually do the common-man test. You ask the man on the 333 or, in this case, the 315 from Spence to Theodore. What does the common man on the 315 from Spence to Theodore do, think and say when you say to him, “Today in the Legislative Assembly, we debated and passed a bill that makes it possible for scientists in the ACT to take genetic material from three or more people and put it together and make a human embryo”? I can tell you that the man from Spence, who is catching the bus to Theodore, is appalled.
We can couch it with “as a result of this, one day, hypothetically out there in the deep distant future, we may be able to find a cure for diabetes or some other thing”, but at this stage this is entirely theoretical. Those cures are entirely theoretical and the mechanisms for doing this are abhorrent to the common man in the ACT, the man on the 315.
This is the test that we should ask ourselves all the time: is it appropriate? Are we doing what the people actually want us to do? We should not gild it over with things like therapeutic cloning. It makes it feel so much nicer when you say, “It is therapeutic; it is good for you; anything that is therapeutic must be good for you,” or, “Somatic cell nuclear transfer,” because nobody on the 315 bus, I suspect, is a geneticist and understands what that is. I suspect that most of us here do not fully comprehend what that is. I actually, from time to time, have to write it down to remember what the order of the words is.
We know that it is science tinkering with our DNA; it is tinkering with our genome. The geneticists that I have spoken to are appalled that we would be progressing down this path today, and they are particularly appalled about the path we would go down when we get to the creation of hybrid embryos.
This is a simple amendment that makes what is currently proposed in this legislation, a procedure that could be allowed by licence, prohibited in all circumstances. For me