Human embryonic stem cells leap the barrier

David G Penington and Graham F Mitchell
Med J Aust 2007; 187 (3): . || doi: 10.5694/j.1326-5377.2007.tb01168.x
Published online: 6 August 2007

Our democratic processes have moved on — so must our science

In April 2007, Victoria became the first Australian state to enact legislation (the Infertility Treatment Amendment Bill 2007) that followed the passage by federal Parliament in December 2006 of the Prohibition of Human Cloning for Reproduction and the Regulation of Human Embryo Research Amendment Act 2006 (Cwlth). This Act gave effect to most of the recommendations of the Legislation Review Committee, chaired by the late John S Lockhart, which reported in December 2005. The Lockhart Committee engaged in wide community consultation and considered expert advice from many sources before making its recommendations on what was inevitably an issue arousing passionate public debate. Similar intense debate had crossed party lines in both federal and Victorian Parliaments, but with a “conscience vote” in both houses in each instance (allowing members to vote as they personally wished rather than along set political party lines), legislation was passed containing major provisions for strict regulation of all aspects of research involving human embryonic material and the strict prohibition of human cloning for reproductive purposes — with draconian penalties for transgression. Many other prohibitions set out in the previous Research Involving Human Embryos Act 2002 (Cwlth) have been firmly retained.

  • David G Penington1
  • Graham F Mitchell2

  • 1 Bio21 Australia Ltd, Melbourne, VIV
  • 2 Foursight Associates Pty Ltd, Melbourne, VIC.



Background information for this editorial came from articles commissioned by the Victorian Government from Dr N Gough and from Professors G J V Nossal and G F Mitchell of Foursight Associates.


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