Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2006 Week 11 Hansard (14 November) . . Page.. 3428..
MRS DUNNE (continuing):
have more safeguards than this. The fact that the minister admitted that they had sought advice and that this was approved-do not any alarm bells start ringing? Did not anyone think, "Gee, this is a problem. What are we doing with a human rights compatibility statement that says that this is the case, when the Human Rights Act says that you cannot detain people in this way?"How can these two things be held to be logically connected?
This minister has failed. I thought she had failed because she had not read it, but she purposely considered this matter, took advice on it, and then said that it was all right to lock people up and throw away the key.
Amendments agreed to.
MR SMYTH (Brindabella) (12.03): I move the amendment circulated in my name to omit clause 2.25 in schedule 1 [see schedule 2 at page 3481]. A number of members have spoken to this clause that will retrospectively approve the use of facilities for abortion. We all know that it is an issue that people hold strong opinions on, but the fact that the notifiable instrument was repealed back on 7 July 2005, and it has taken some 16 months for this error to be corrected, certainly is an indictment of the former minister. If the new minister, as she claims, found the mistake and was rectifying the mistake, then that is a good thing. Mr Corbell might explain how this occurred.
For those of us who have a strong opinion against abortion, a strong belief against abortion, to go back now and retrospectively say, "Yes, we are going to approve that the use of these facilities for 16 months was okay,"is unacceptable. The Liberal Party has always taken the view that to do anything retrospectively is something that we would only do cautiously and not do on a great number of occasions. In this case we simply wish to make the point, as many of us have done on many occasions, that we are against abortions and we are against abortions being conducted in facilities in the ACT.
MS GALLAGHER (Molonglo-Minister for Health, Minister for Disability and Community Services and Minister for Women) (12.04): I spoke to this at the in-principle stage. I accept there is a difference of opinion in the Assembly on pregnancy terminations. I have explained how this situation occurred. I do not see how those who are opposed to terminations can further their cause by not supporting retrospective approval of medical facilities. I do not think it assists those who are anti abortion at all.
This is really to protect the women involved. It is to protect the health professionals that are involved who, through no fault of their own, potentially could be exposed because of this. This is simply to address an issue which has unfortunately arisen. But it has arisen. To fail to support this amendment is to effectively say to those who may be impacted on by this, "You have got no protections at all."I do not think that is a sensitive or fair way of dealing with an unfortunate occurrence which is being addressed through this legislation and which was addressed. I do not believe it went for 14 months-I would have to check-but it was certainly fixed up the minute we became aware of it. I think it was less than that by the time we put in a notifiable instrument, but I will check. I think it was around 12 or 13 months once we became aware of it. Having said that, it is extremely unfortunate but it is very important that this opposition amendment not be supported.