Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2008 Week 04 Hansard (Tuesday, 8 April 2008) . . Page.. 1069 ..
purposes of testing the viability of human semen. When I went back and considered what he said, in many ways Mr Hargreaves seemed to be having the debate that we had four years ago. He seems to have overlooked the fact that most of what this legislation does is give people permission to create embryos—human or hybrid, cloned or otherwise—for the purposes of research.
Mr Hargreaves said that he would feel more comfortable about it if the injunction was to destroy after some shorter time than four days. He said, “Why not four hours?” I seriously sat down and considered whether I could accommodate Mr Hargreaves and say, “Can we shorten that time in any way?” But I came to the conclusion that morally—from a public policy point of view which is underpinned by morality—I cannot. You are still creating an embryo; you are just shortening the time for which that embryo lives. Whether you destroy it after four hours, 14 days or 14 weeks, it is still destroying a human being.
Although I seriously considered it, when I looked rationally at it I knew that I could not in all conscience propose what Mr Hargreaves was asking for. The thing is—this was borne out by the interview with Professor Tom Faunce on 2CN, when he admitted that scientific research is heading in a different direction—that the use of embryo cells is no longer necessary.
It is interesting that one of the things that this legislation outlaws is what is called a “chimera”. Originally the word “chimera” referred to a mythological monster with the head of a human and the tail of a snake. The term was adopted by the scientific community to represent a half-human, half-animal creature but it also meant something which was imaginary or a false hope. In both senses, what we are doing here today is a chimera. The truth is that we do not need to do this.
What we are holding out to people is a false hope. A number of people spoke in here about someone they knew who had a disease that might be cured by this. We do not know of any cure that has yet become available as a result of embryo research. We do know of some very limited numbers of cures which have become available as a result of human adult stem cell research, but as yet not one from this.
For all those people who are holding out for Johnno to vote for this or for some other member to vote for the legislation, I am sorry, but they are being given false hope. There is no cure around the corner. There may not ever be a substantial number of cures from any sort of stem cell research, although there are a small number from adult stem cell research. All of the people say that the science is outmoded, and as a result of that we should be opposing the process.
MR MULCAHY (Molonglo) (11.09): I am pleased to speak in support of the amendments put forward by Mrs Dunne.
Earlier this month, we saw the advent of the first human-animal hybrid embryo in Britain. Researchers at Newcastle University produced an embryo by inserting human DNA from a skin cell into a hollowed out cow egg and then inducing growth in the embryo through an electric shock. These embryos, known as cytoplasmic hybrids, are used because of the relative scarcity and expense of human eggs relative to cow eggs.