Page 1003 - Week 03 - Thursday, 3 April 2008

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have a community full of people here who would have been interested and better informed.

I see that this has somehow been done in a stealthy way. Internally, we know what is going on. But it is up to the government to drive into the community what they are proposing to put, as it is for the opposition to drive into the community what they are proposing to do. It is the government’s bill. I think it is sad that the community are so unaware of the implications and ramifications of what this bill will do if it goes through as is. I would call it a desensitising of the community. I do respect people’s views. I do respect where people come from.

I have said it before—and I know members have struggled with it—but I suppose I can see where Mrs Dunne is coming from. Personally, I probably have reached a point in my life—and I have had varying views throughout my life—where I fully know, understand and accept where life itself begins. Many members have said that is the argument today.

Where life begins becomes the crucial point for whether you can accept this legislation, holus-bolus as is and let it go through, or whether you have some nagging doubt. There are obviously some members on the government side who have nagging doubts—at least one, anyway. I am not judging people for this. I am just saying that that is why Mr Smyth’s amendment needed to be agreed to. It is about time.

The community do not know what we are talking about here today. They would not have any idea. What we have placed before them is a fait accompli. I think the acceptance of this bill today is the start of a dangerous and slippery slope. As I have said before, science is advancing far more quickly than we realise and know. I just do not know how we can accept the fact that it is right that scientists can take genetic material from multiple sources.

If you do not understand or cannot accept or agree that life begins when a sperm penetrates an egg, then you will, of course, look on this legislation as simply scientific. I am trying to grasp and understand that that is where many in this debate have come from. It is all scientific. As I always have said in this place, what do people think happens when a sperm hits an egg and fuses? What does that then grow into? It grows into a baby. It does not grow into a dog or an elephant; it grows into a human being. Therefore, it is human life. There are two living things that come together to make a human life, a human being.

I will not say too much more now, for the sake of time. But I am really concerned that we cannot tell and have not told the public more about what we are doing. I think if they knew they would want time to absorb and digest some of the very scientific phrases and terminology and what it actually means. I fully support what Mrs Dunne is saying.

For those in the government and one crossbench member to keep saying this is some sort of religious debate, I think, is wrong. This is about ethics. Many of us on this side of the house and on that side of the house are churchgoers. It is not about that. It is about the ethics of what we do here. That is what I said earlier. We are legislators, tasked with a really serious job to do. You want to push this through without so much

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