Nov 302006

Your Bannerman spends a great deal of the working day listening to ABC Newsradio, either for it’s news content, or more particularly for the broadcasts from Parliament House in Canberra. While many may not consider such broadcasts rivetting listening, I personally find it fascinating to take in the machinations of our elected representatives. Particularly Question Time over lunch. It makes for some light entertainment to laugh at the ‘Dorothy Dixers’ and arrogantly ignorant rejoinders from the Government benches to questions posed by the Opposition.

Today’s broadcast came from the House, or to use its formal title, The House of Representatives. Often times I’d prefer to call it the House of Unrepresentatives judging by the behaviour of many, especially during Question Time, but that’s modern day politics I suppose. Of particular interest to me today was the debate of the Prohibition of Human Cloning for Reproduction and the Regulation of Human Research Amendment Bill 2006. This is the formal debate for lower house members on the same bill introduced as a private members bill by Senator Kay Patterson(Lib-Vic) earlier this month. It passed the Senate relatively easily although there were many dissenters who spoke on this conscience matter.

The debate in the House was surprisingly different. That’s not to say debate was contrary to the Senate decision. Anything but. In fact debate was even more to the affirmative than I considered it might be. It was refreshing, albeit just a tad repetitive, to hear rational and well resourced, often emotive speeches from members who were free to express themselves for once, outside the constraints of party politics. Perhaps it’s because I’m of a “Yea!” mindset that I found many of the nay-sayers arguments non-existent and in a few cases, completely absurd. Some invoked the vision of Arnold Schwartzenneger’s movie “The Sixth Day”, while others claimed that just because the UK, Singapore, Belgium and China are deeply involved in Somatic Cell Nuclear Transfer, Australia was better off not following along and our scientists wouldn’t leave the country anyway because, hey – Oz is such a great place to do research. A self-defeating argument if I’ve ever heard one. There were a couple of speakers who took to their opponents arguments on a semi-personal basis, and others who had clearly not read the Lockhart Report or indulged in some serious research of their own, but overall the quality of debate was refreshing to say the least.

The private members bill will pass the lower house with a greater margin than it enjoyed in the Senate, no doubts at all there. The House won’t sit again until Monday 4th December when the final vote on this bill will take place.

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