Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2008 Week 03 Hansard (Thursday, 3 April 2008) . . Page.. 990 ..
marriage—“happy” is possibly not the right word, because there have been a lot of tears in relation to our inability to have children—but I knew that when we got married. I knew what it meant. But that does not relate to the choice that I make in this place. As I said before, as I do not see embryos as life but rather the potential for life and I do think the possibilities that this research will give are incredibly important to the vast majority of people in our community, I will be supporting this bill.
MR BERRY (Ginninderra) (5.01): I had not intended to speak on this matter. I have seen the debate continuing over many, many months now, and it seemed to me to be going in the direction which I would support and which is generally supported by the community. But I felt a little goaded into commenting today because some speakers have said that people who have a conscience on this issue, because it is a conscience vote, ought to say which way they are going to vote and why. That is just part of the political partisan debate, but I was goaded by it, so I thought I would say something on this from a humanist’s perspective.
I regard this move as a rather routine development and improvement on the science which we as human beings enjoy because of the education that is provided to us in progressive states like our own. Much was said earlier about the ethical and moral positions that people might have, and there was an attempt try to draw some connection between this issue, the abortion issue and capital punishment. Of course, there is no real connection. This is a science which is aimed at improving the lot of ordinary human beings. I take the view that, as a human being—it is probably one of those primeval things—that we are here to make things better for the next generation and to reproduce ourselves. By making things better for the next generation we improve on science.
I am not going to attempt to debate the good and bad sides of the sciences that are involved in this piece of legislation. My job, I think, is to ensure that there are adequate safeguards when this science is exercised. As a legislator, and having that humanist commitment to making things better for the next generation and supporting any opportunities that arise to do so, I feel obliged to support these sorts of advances in science which may or may not improve the lot of other people. In my view, and in the view of many of my constituents, it would be immoral and unethical not to do this. I take that very strong view. I have taken that very strong view on issues such as capital punishment—that is, it would be unethical and immoral not to oppose it—just as I have taken the view that it would be unethical and immoral to prevent a woman from making decisions about her reproduction.
It is with some pleasure, I suppose, that I am able to vent my senses about this advance. I have had no trouble with it from the beginning, save for the obligation as a legislator, as I mentioned earlier, to provide proper safeguards for the possibility of scientific advances which will improve the lot of other human beings. I feel a sense of responsibility as a citizen to do whatever one can to make life better for the next generation. As a legislator I have an even stronger obligation to do that. That is why I will be supporting this bill wholeheartedly, and that is why I will continue to support this science.
MS GALLAGHER (Molonglo—Minister for Health, Minister for Children and Young People, Minister for Disability and Community Services, Minister for