Page 994 - Week 03 - Thursday, 3 April 2008

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tightly controlled and approved conditions. The bill goes to a list of prohibited activities—in fact, most of the bill is about prohibited activity—and this creates a sensible, modern way forward—that is, not to ban all research, not to allow simply any research, but to agree on a nationally consistent framework for which some research can occur.

I am advised that Australia is internationally recognised and renowned for providing a nationally consistent environment for research to occur. This nationally consistent framework genuinely makes Australia attractive for researchers to come and embark on research, either on their own or in partnership with Australian professionals.

Many of those who spoke against the bill spoke about some Korean research which was referred to in the Lockhart review. If you look at the Lockhart review, you will see a great deal of other research that was referred to listed as appendices to that review. Lockhart did not rely on this research alone, but, importantly, the Korean research results, as they have come to light, did not prove that what was attempted could not be done; it was simply not done under this research.

Also, opponents to this legislation today said that, because of the number of licences issued it showed that this kind of research is not required—that is, not many people had applied for licences. I would argue that this shows how cautious scientists themselves are around conducting research in this area. Most of the research is adult stem cell research.

Mr Smyth had a number of concerns. In the current legislation, which Mrs Dunne recommended we repeal, section 30 (4) (b) actually provides—and I mentioned this earlier in my speech—that if there is a better way of doing things, if there is a more effective way of doing things, for example if adult stem cells can be used in research, then a licence will not be granted for another type of research, such as the one that Mr Smyth is concerned about. That issue is covered off.

The argument was that science is moving too fast and we have found that so much can be done with adult stem cells. But only so much can be done with adult stem cell research, and that is covered off in section 30 (4) (b) of the current act. If people had taken the time to have a look at that, they would know that it addresses the concern—

Mr Smyth: No, I do not believe it does.

MS GALLAGHER: Well, it certainly addresses the argument you raised. In relation to success rates of research and whether it is cost-effective—and you could apply that to a whole range of research—surely the NHMRC are the people that need to make those decisions around reasons for research, whether that research is appropriate and whether it is cost-effective. Their guidelines for the ethical conduct of human research are available, and they are quite extensive. They go to many of the concerns that those opposed to this legislation have argued today.

The other issue was around the words “excess assisted reproductive technology embryos”. There are excess embryos now and they are destroyed now. With the very personal consent of donors—that is, the agreement of the man and woman involved—some of the embryos which are currently destroyed can be used for research. That is a

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