Recent media and web based commentary has concerned allegations, originally published in the blog Croakey, about Dr Sarah Laurie of the Waubra Foundation conducting human research without ethical approval.
Australians expect that those conducting research adhere to the highest ethical standards. These ethical standards are set out in NHMRC’s National Statement on Ethical Conduct in Human Research 2007 (National Statement). Given the significance of these ethical standards, the National Statement and any amendments to it are tabled in both Houses of Parliament. The National Statement was tabled in the Australian Parliament on 28 March 2007. All human research in Australia should be conducted in accordance with the National Statement which provides clear and strong guidance to those involved.
It has been suggested that NHMRC has been investigating the allegations concerning Dr Laurie. I can confirm that NHMRC asked Dr Laurie to respond to the allegations as a courtesy.
I have today advised all relevant parties that NHMRC will take no further action in relation to these allegations. Neither Dr Laurie, nor the Waubra Foundation, has contractual arrangements through a signed NHMRC Funding Agreement. Therefore, there is no remit for NHMRC to act.
These recent events have, however, raised important issues for me as the CEO and NHMRC. Accordingly, I have asked the Australian Health Ethics Committee to advise me, as soon as possible, on the current requirements of the National Statement and the broader implications relating to research being conducted without ethical approval and any advice I may be able to provide to governments.
NHMRC acknowledges that the potential health effects from wind farms are an important public issue. Once the review of the current literature of health effects from wind farms is received in the coming months, if research is needed, NHMRC will support further research.
Professor Warwick Anderson AM
Chief Executive Officer