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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2008 Week 03 Hansard (Thursday, 3 April 2008) . . Page.. 943 ..

potential to assist treatment of many different diseases. That is why stem cell research is different and not a replacement. Objectors to this bill claim that adult stem cells are as useful as embryonic stem cells. As I said, that is not the case.

One of the Greens’ major concerns is the potential for the commercialisation of human eggs. The questions we need to think about are: who owns what is found? Who owns the research? What will be the access to benefits of this research? Everything is going to private medical research, and access to the results of that research is not provided equitably. It is a user-pays system in many ways.

So there are issues about ownership. For example, this research opportunity has come out of IVF, which is a state-funded process, but then you have the private sector which could do very well out of it. So there are important questions about ownership of the technology and access for people regardless of their capacity to pay.

The Greens believe that, in weighing up this matter, the public interest is better served by passing the bill than by opposing it and thereby stifling the potential discoveries that might flow from it. The bill does not allow open slather, using unethical practices. It provides for the use of modern science and technology. As former science writer Elizabeth Finkel said in 2005:

Allowing ideology to drive science is a recipe for second-rate science.

The Greens are satisfied that there are sufficient safeguards built into the legislation to stop it being used maliciously or going beyond the bounds that the community would find acceptable. Further, we commit ourselves to being watchdogs over the future operation of this legislation.

MR SESELJA (Molonglo—Leader of the Opposition) (12.16): I thank members for the opportunity to speak on this very important piece of legislation. I am a supporter of stem cell research. I believe it has a great potential to provide cures for some of our most debilitating diseases, and I understand the desire of scientists and people with debilitating diseases or their loved ones to find cures for these diseases and to use research to progress the case for finding these cures.

The question that we are debating today is: where are the ethical boundaries drawn? Where do we draw the line in terms of what research is acceptable and what research is not acceptable? I would have liked to have heard, in a free vote, from more government MLAs to hear what their views are, either for or against, to help inform the debate. I am grateful to Dr Foskey for putting her views on the record.

I do think, though, that Dr Foskey has taken a fairly simplistic view of those who are in favour or opposed, really trying to alienate all those who happen to oppose this legislation as doing so on religious grounds. I think there are good scientific grounds to oppose the legislation, and I will be voting against the legislation as a result.

Cloning involves creating a human embryo where all the genetic materials come from one person, not from two. Scientists take a human egg from a woman by stimulating her ovaries to produce extra eggs. Somatic cell nuclear transfer, which has been mentioned by Dr Foskey, is the method used to create a cloned human embryo. Stem

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