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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 10 Hansard (25 November) . . Page.. 2846..


MR HARGREAVES (11.26): In speaking to the motion to adjourn this matter, I would take issue with a comment made by a previous speaker when the accusation of grandstanding came up. Mr Humphries referred in a throwaway line to Mr Berry's - I believe he was referring to Mr Berry - grandstanding. Mr Humphries clearly confuses conviction with grandstanding. Grandstanding is when people go public on these issues. With one position and in a very positive way they address crowds and then prevaricate when they are pressed. That is grandstanding. I would put people's motives in question when they do this sort of thing. Mr Speaker, whether you like his views on these matters or not, Wayne Berry is a man of conviction. To accuse him of grandstanding is a cheap shot and it ought to be condemned. I do so right now.

Mr Speaker, I support the motion to adjourn this debate. There are those of us who could be called fence-sitters, if you like. We could be called confused or accused of having battles with our own souls, if you like. Nonetheless, it is a very difficult position to be placed in and I wish to heaven that it had never occurred.

Mr Speaker, this morning I received a copy of some amendments that Mr Moore is promoting. We are being asked to decide today, in a number of hours, what people take a lifetime to decide. I would like to pay tribute to what Ms Tucker said in the newspaper today. I think it was particularly well put and absolutely spot on. She said that we are being asked to vote on legislation without having a cooling-off period. We are actually voting to have a cooling-off period in the legislation but we are not demanding the same thing of ourselves. I think that was particularly well taken. Mr Speaker, I urge the Assembly to give people like me more time to consider the legislation.

MR MOORE (Minister for Health and Community Care) (11.29): Mr Speaker, unlike Mr Hargreaves, I am not confused about this issue. I am not a fence-sitter on this issue. I have a very clear position. My clear position is that I oppose this legislation. In fact, given the opportunity, I would decriminalise abortion and completely remove it from the Crimes Act. I would not hesitate to do that if I believed I had the numbers. I am also interested in ensuring that, whatever the outcome from this legislation, it is what I would call the least worst solution.

Let me say, Mr Speaker, that this Assembly and previous Assemblies, in dealing with planning issues, have insisted that the community have adequate time to consider planning issues. Now, how do planning issues compare to women's lives? How do planning issues compare to the right of a woman to control her own body? They do not compare, Mr Speaker. Mr Berry has put up a very sensible proposal this morning and that proposal is to postpone this debate.

I have worked particularly hard, and so have my staff and particularly my senior adviser, on these issues over the last week - well into the night on many occasions. I think we have some sensible amendments to make to this Bill, if that is going to be the case - if this Bill passes. But there is nothing better I would like than to postpone this and to have more time to be able to get a better consideration of this Bill, better consideration of the amendments that we were still working on towards midnight last night.


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