RU486 debate complicates with amendments posed in Australian House of Representatives

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

The ongoing debate over whether the Australian Health Minister Tony Abbott, or the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) regulate the abortifacient mifepristone (RU486) has complicated with a number of members proposing amendments to the Senate bill, now in the House of Representatives.

Jackie Kelly (Australian Liberal Party, Lindsay) has said that "There should be a transparent process in which the minister is accountable for his or her decision" on so-called restricted goods (of which RU486 is such a good) as listed in the TGA legislation. Kelly has proposed an amendment with points stating that "the Minister for Health and Ageing continuing to have the decision making role in relation to the approval of restricted goods...", "the Minister being required to obtain written advice from the Therapeutic Goods Administration prior to giving written approval or refusal to approve", "the Minister's decision being subject to disallowance".

In the debate on February 14, Andrew Laming (Liberal, Bowman) noted his intent to propose an amendment in the later consideration in detail stage, noting his views that the TGA process is "so far removed...from the concerns and the beliefs of the community" and that he is "unable to convince [himself] that completely leaving these decisions to the TGA is the right thing to do". His amendment loosely aims to propose a "disallowable instrument in Parliament where there is a disagreement with the findings of the TGA."

The introduction of amendments has caused confusion on procedural matters February 15 in the Questions to the Speaker period (that follows Question Time), where members can ask questions of the Speaker on procedural and other technical matters. In the following vote on the proposed legislation, if one of the votes on the amendments succeeds, this has the effect of discontinuing the other amendment proposals, as each of the amendments proposed has the effect of being a complete alternative bill.

The RU486 debate will have precedence over all other matters in the House until it is dealt with. Voting is expected on Thursday.

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This article features first-hand journalism by Wikinews members. See the collaboration page for more details.
This article features first-hand journalism by Wikinews members. See the collaboration page for more details.
  • Australian House of Representatives Hansard, February 14, 2005.
  • ABC NewsRadio broadcasts of the House of Representatives, February 15, 2005.