Page 1081 - Week 04 - Tuesday, 8 April 2008
investing in a research proposal if the legislation expires after five years. They will simply go to other jurisdictions where sunset clauses do not operate. That might be of some comfort to those who oppose this legislation, but for me, who supports this legislation—I would not mind hearing Dr Foskey’s response—the timetable would act to the detriment of research actually occurring here. The time taken in labs getting a research proposal up, getting it approved, getting licences and then conducting the research I do not think allows enough time.
The other issue is that whilst a sunset clause would abolish what research can be done by the legislation expiring, importantly—I think this has been somewhat lost in the debate—it would also get rid of all the protections that exist and the prohibitions and offences that are created under this legislation. So for those reasons that I have outlined I will not be supporting the amendment.
MRS DUNNE (Ginninderra) (12.00): I thank Dr Foskey for bringing this matter forward. I will be supporting her amendment. I think that it is just good public policy, as she said. In an area where there is such a lot of debate and where there are highly charged issues in relation to the ethics and the science, where all the scientists, irrespective of what side of the debate they come down on, come out and say that most of what we are proposing now is either already redundant or will soon be redundant, it is perfectly reasonable that this legislation should lapse.
In 2013, when the second Seselja government is coming to the stage where this matter has to be considered, if the minister for health thinks that this is an important issue and that this legislation should continue, there will then be the mechanisms available to the house to continue this legislation, or the health minister in a second Seselja government who has signed up to some sort of national agreement will be able to come in here and say, “This was how things were in the past, boys and girls, but, you know, the science has overtaken it.”
The health minister in the second Seselja government, whoever that person may be, will have a responsibility to take the report from the commonwealth minister and do something other than just table it. There is nothing in the current provisions requiring the tabling and the retabling of reports from ministers that requires us as a legislature to do anything about them. Dr Foskey’s proposal requires us to come back in 2013 and think about it again. If I happen to be the health minister in the second Seselja government in 2013, I would relish the opportunity to do so.
MR SPEAKER: I warmly welcome students from years 5 and 6 from Curtin primary school.
DR FOSKEY (Molonglo) (12.03), in reply: I will briefly respond to Ms Gallagher’s concerns about my amendment. These are very valid concerns, but I do not really believe that they are an argument against the amendment. As I said in my speech moving the amendment, it is necessary anyway for the health minister to take this issue to other Australian government ministers. If we want to even the playing field, that is the way to do it—to support this amendment and then to take it to the ministerial council on this issue.