by Steven Ertelt
July 14, 2006
Canberra, Australia (LifeNews.com) — Australia Prime Minister John Howards says two Australian states may lose federal research dollars if they move forward with plans to legalize human cloning for research purposes. Howard warned that the national government was unlikely to overturn a current ban on all forms of human cloning that it has in place.
"The commonwealth’s disposition at present is not to agree to any legislative changes," he said, according to a report in The Australian newspaper.
"We note that some of the states will look to taking action of their own to the extent that that can be done without facilitating commonwealth legislation, which would not, at this time anyway, be available," he added.
Still, he said no final decision had been made about science funding for the states.
"People should not assume anything about that," he said.
Howard’s comments come shortly after Treasurer Peter Costello put forward a more explicit warning that the nation would not fund states that choose to purse "ethically repugnant" stem cell research or human cloning.
Meanwhile, NSW Premier Morris told The Australian that there are legal concerns as to whether the two states can move forward with promoting human cloning.
"There are unresolved legal issues about whether you can or you can’t move out on your own," he said.
But Victorian Premier Steve Bracks said he is determined to push for a change in state law.
"Victoria reserves the right to consider its position in moving on the next wave of reform in stem cell research, in looking at human cells, mixing with embryonic stem cells, seeing that as a way of finding new areas of research which can assist in finding breakthroughs for intractable diseases, and certainly we will be perusing that independently," he said.
He called Costello’s comments on revoking federal funding "ill-considered" and said he was glad that Howard qualified them.
Also in the news, Australian Medical Association head Dr. Mukesh Haikerwal encouraged the two states to move ahead with their attempts to legalize human cloning.
"I think that they need to move quite quickly on this," he said. "We need to be progressive in this areas otherwise other countries will take over."
Federal Liberal Party backbencher, Mal Washer, also said that he will push for a conscience vote in the Australia parliament on removing the human cloning ban.