Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2008 Week 03 Hansard (Thursday, 3 April 2008) . . Page.. 932 ..
agree with. It is the parliament, not the executive, which is sovereign in this regard. The various parties to the intergovernmental agreements are well aware of how parliaments in Australia work and they are well aware that the executive cannot commit members of the parliament to vote for the required legislation.
In conclusion, I urge members of this Assembly to give serious consideration to the ethical implications of this bill. No-one denies that medical research is a good thing and that curing diseases and other medical afflictions is a valuable and worthwhile enterprise. But this does not excuse us from considering questions of medical ethics, and considering them very carefully. It would be a grave dereliction of duty of members of this Assembly to simply ignore such questions for the sake of national consistency.
I will be opposing this bill because I believe that there are serious ethical problems with it and that it would put us on a dangerous path which we should not be following.
Ahead of the planned introduction of amendments that have been sent to members by Mrs Dunne, I say that I will be very pleased to support the amendments. They make a lot of sense to me. Mrs Dunne gave me the courtesy of giving me a short briefing this morning when I received the documentation. She has been a leader in her defence and advocacy of life issues; I share her unqualified commitment to the importance of life. For that reason also, I will be voting against this bill but supporting her amendments should the bill get through the in-principle stage.
MR STEFANIAK (Ginninderra) (11.32): In the event that no-one from the Labor side wants to have a go, I will speak. I think that is a bit disappointing. Mr Speaker, I, too, will be opposing this bill. I have had a look at Mrs Dunne’s amendments, and I think they are eminently sensible in the circumstances, given that the government would seem to have the numbers to get the bill up at the in-principle stage at least.
I think Mrs Burke and Mrs Dunne have most eloquently expressed the views of most of us in terms of this particular matter. It concerns me that science in this case has actually outstripped the legislation, and I will come to that. Both Mrs Dunne and Mrs Burke, and even Mr Mulcahy, made reference to the fact that there have been some significant advances which actually debunk the supposed need for the government’s bill.
I will come first to one of the government’s main rationales for the bill, which is, “This is a national scheme. We are just coming into line with the national scheme.” The government uses that argument very, very selectively. It will go it alone with its own hare-brained ideas, or perhaps sometimes some ideas that are not quite so hare-brained, when it suits them and say, “Well, look, the ACT is different. Why do we actually have to follow blindly what other states and territories of the commonwealth do?” But when it wants to do something and push a certain argument, it will go 180 degrees the opposite way and say, “Well, this is a national scheme and we need to follow it.”
Mr Speaker, there are national schemes and there are national schemes, and I think it is very important when there is a clear national scheme that benefits the people of Australia, including the people of the ACT, that you support it. It is common sense to