Page 947 - Week 03 - Thursday, 3 April 2008

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I would say, in conclusion, that I do understand the different motivations that people bring to this debate. I understand the difficult questions that we are grappling with here as a legislature. I do not think it is reasonable to simply write off one side of the argument or the other as being based on a particular way of thinking. I think there are a number of scientific and ethical questions at stake here. I think it is legitimate that we have a difference of opinion, which is why we are having a conscience vote on this issue.

I do think, though, the fundamental reason, the most important reason, for not going ahead with this is that the science has moved on and that we do not have to go down this very contentious ethical road because the way that stem cell therapy has advanced and will continue to advance is providing the same potential and greater potential than would be gained from therapeutic cloning. So for these reasons, I will not be supporting the bill.

MR GENTLEMAN (Brindabella) (12.29): My father suffered from Parkinson’s disease for more than 10 years before he passed away. I watched his condition degrade over that time, with, of course, the loss of control, firstly, over some of his bodily functions—the uncontrollable shaking—and then, in time, the loss of the ability to walk. Then, of course, towards the end was the loss of memory. It was the recent memory he lost first, then past memories and then, of course, he forgot his family.

Earlier Mr Mulcahy suggested that no-one denies medical research is a good thing but this decision is an ethical decision. If, by passing this legislation, we have an opportunity to provide a cure for that disease, Parkinson’s, and others such as cancer, I believe that we are ethically bound to pass this legislation.

Debate interrupted in accordance with standing order 74 and the resumption of the debate made an order of the day for a later hour.

Sitting suspended from 12.30 to 2.30 pm.

Questions without notice


MR SESELJA: My question is to the Chief Minister. Chief Minister, yesterday your deputy said that she began planning to close schools on 30 November 2004. She claimed that you had toured Ginninderra high school around that time and that you had discussions with her soon after 30 November 2004. When did you decide that the government was going to break its pledge at the 2004 election not to close schools?

MR STANHOPE: We broke no such pledge.

MR SESELJA: Mr Speaker, I have a supplementary question. Given that it took you only six weeks to decide to break your promise, why has it taken you so long to come clean with the community?

MR STANHOPE: We broke no promise, Mr Speaker.

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