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Australian scientists are very pleased with therapeutic cloning vote

10 January, 2007

Australian stem cell scientists are very pleased with the decision in the House of Representatives to allow somatic cell nuclear transfer, also known as therapeutic cloning.

Professor Stephe Livesey, Chief Executive Officer at the Australian Stem Cell Centre based in Melbourne, has expressed his thanks to all members of parliament for their diligent and considered responses to the Private Members' Bill put forward by Senator Kay Patterson and introduced to the lower house by Dr. Mal Washer.

"This has been a very complex debate and the ASCC (Australian Stem Cell Centre) is very appreciative of the considerable effort that all members of the House of Representatives and the Senate have committed to personally understanding the science and ethical questions this field of research raises."

"I would also like to acknowledge the tremendous support the stem cell scientific community around Australia has received from Senator Kay Patterson and Dr. Mal Washer, as well as Senators Natasha Stott-Despoja and Ruth Webber, in raising the amended legislation and keeping stem cell research on the parliamentary agenda."

"On behalf of the Australian cell science community, I would also like to extend our thanks to the Prime Minister, John Howard, for providing the opportunity for a conscience vote on this issue."

"I believe it was very important that members of parliament were given an opportunity to learn about the nature of stem cell science, to debate the issues and to offer their personal perspectives on how this science might impact upons Australians."

"I hope the end of the parliamentary debate will not mark the end of the public debate about stem cell research. Justice John Lockhart, the late Chairman of the Lockhart Committee appointed to provide advice to the Government on the legislation and state of research, encouraged stem cell scientists to speak publicly about their work. When he visited the Australian Stem Cell Centre late last year, during public hearings, he specifically articulated the importance of public education and the important role scientists should play in encouraging ongoing discussion."