09-16-2002, 03:39 AM
Join Date: Jul 2001
Location: New Brunswick, NJ, USA
Stem cells, Iraq on agenda
By Shane Wright
September 15, 2002
FEDERAL Parliament resumes this week with debate over embryonic stem cell research and a possible war in Iraq to dominate proceedings.
The stem cell debate, in which MPs have a conscience vote, is likely to become more intense following controversy over claims by a key proponent.
Many MPs have seen a video shown by Alan Trounson to MPs of a deformed rat that had recovered the use of its legs after supposedly being treated with stem cells.
But it was discovered the rat had been treated with germ cells from an aborted foetuses.
Labor frontbencher Kevin Rudd said today the Trounson video had been a major factor for many MPs to back stem cell research.
"That's pretty impressive for those who don't understand the science - only to discover afterwards it wasn't actually embryonic stem cells that did the job," he told Channel 10.
The House of Representatives has passed a law banning human cloning, leaving MPs completely focused on stem cell research.
Despite the video, it still appears there is enough support in the House for the proposal to move to the Senate where the result is likely to be closer.
Foreign Affairs Minister Alexander Downer is due to address Parliament on Tuesday setting out Iraq's breaches of United Nations resolutions.
It follows pressure on the Government to set out the case against Iraq before any commitment of troops to a possible invasion force.
Deputy Prime Minister John Anderson gave an insight into the Government's feelings on the issue today, saying war may be inevitable against President Saddam Hussein.
"I don't want my children to have to go to war, none of you do either, no Australians do," he said.
"Yet we must recognise that sometimes the old adage that a stitch in time can save nine, is right."
But Opposition Leader Simon Crean said Mr Downer must set out the government's evidence against Iraq.
"Evidence must be presented, the cast must be made, and all action must be collective and international," he said.
The debate over paid maternity leave will continue, with a Senate report into the issue due to be tabled on Wednesday.
Australian Democrats' spokeswoman on the status of women Natasha Stott Despoja backed Sex Discrimination Commissioner Pru Goward who said paid maternity leave would be cheaper than the government's baby bonus.
"A government-funded scheme for 14 weeks at the minimum wage ... would cost less than the Government's ill-targeted baby bonus," she said.
Labor is also likely to target the Government's proposed sugar levy to fund its $150 million rescue package for the ailing industry.
The Government will continue its efforts to force more accountability from unions, while debate will resume on proposals to reform the privileges given to former politicians.