Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2022 Week 07 Hansard (Thursday, 4 August 2022) . . Page.. 2384 ..
in further advancements that we have made in regulations and actions that we have led: exclusion zones outside clinics and improvements to access to surgical and medical abortions. It is why we have also taken the next step in supporting women, their bodies and their choices, through this budget, by removing financial barriers to abortion. I truly commend Ministers Berry and Stephen-Smith for their leadership in this area.
It is also why we, as a party but more broadly as women and as a Canberra community, are absolutely reeling from the United States Supreme Court decision and the actions which then flowed, in many cases immediately, across jurisdictions in that country. We are reeling because we feel the impact globally. And we are reeling because it shows just how easily and how quickly women’s rights can be eroded. While we are 10,000 kilometres away, Mr Berry’s words still ring true. We must remain vigilant. It is part of the reason that we are standing in solidarity today and it is why we are seeking to express a joint message of that solidarity.
This past Tuesday marked five years since we had a concerning debate in this place on abortion. It followed an exchange that I had had with the then shadow health minister, Mrs Dunne, who described abortion decriminalisation in New South Wales as bad law and, shockingly and disturbingly, went so far as to describe me as pro-abortion for the votes. Necessarily, we called on the Canberra Liberals to clarify their policy on abortion. The then leader, Mr Coe, responded:
… the motion is redundant because I can confirm that the Canberra Liberals do not have a policy view on this issue.
Their policy was a conscience vote. Rightly, we were shocked and concerned at this response. What did this mean? Would their policy then depend on whomever was the minister at the time? The lack of clarity rightly raised questions on what the Canberra Liberals would do if in government.
I raise this now because the recent experiences in the US reflect just how serious an issue it is and just how important it is for all parties to have a clear position, wherever we are. This motion today is not asking for a policy position, but I would ask the Canberra Liberals to reflect on that. I also reflect with regret that, just like in 2017, today we do have Canberra Liberals members who we know have a different view, who are not only not putting it on the record but have absented themselves from the chamber. This does make me worry.
On an uplifting note to finish, can I sincerely thank Minister Berry. She has been tireless in continuing her father’s legacy. She has been absolutely relentless to ensure that women’s rights are not only upheld but promoted and advanced. It is an honour for me to serve in cabinet and in government with her. Thank you. I commend the motion to the chamber.
MS STEPHEN-SMITH (Kurrajong—Minister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs, Minister for Families and Community Services and Minister for Health) (12.16): Of course I rise today in support of the Deputy Chief Minister and Minister for Women’s motion, because we know that abortion is a health service and choice is a fundamental human right. I also want to acknowledge Ms Lawder’s