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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 5 Hansard (26 August) . . Page.. 1358 ..

Suspension of Standing Orders

MR BERRY (3.02): I move:

That so much of the standing orders be suspended as would prevent a motion being moved to rescind the resolution of the Assembly earlier this day fixing a future day for the resumption of debate on the Health Regulation (Abortions) Bill 1998 and to reconsider the question fixing a future day for the consideration of the Bill as an order of the day, forthwith.

This morning legislation was introduced into the Assembly without notice. No advice was given to the community that that Bill was to be introduced into this Assembly. It is an important Bill which may affect the lives and lifestyles of 2,000 women in the ACT who, after the passage of that Bill if it is successful, will be forced to travel interstate for a termination of pregnancy. Much of what existed before the Termination of Pregnancy Act in the ACT was repealed.

Mr Speaker, it is regrettable that we have to go to these lengths to ensure that there is proper debate, but I am not sure that it was the intention of the Government or Mr Osborne for this Bill to receive a proper airing. That is why, if this suspension of standing orders is successful, I will be moving to ensure that the debate is delayed at least until 8 December 1998. That will ensure that those people who might wish to make a contribution to the debate will have adequate time to do so. It will ensure that the standing of this place, which may have been damaged as a result of the moves by Mr Osborne and any plans that anybody had to rush this through, is preserved. It is sensible that legislation of such importance to such a large part of our community receive a proper airing. This is not legislation to increase the fine for certain traffic offenders, which would affect only a couple of hundred people. Two thousand women per annum will be affected by this legislation. The legislation that Mr Osborne has introduced into the Assembly will prevent access to terminations of pregnancy for almost all of the 2,000 women in the ACT who now access them.

It is extremely important that there be a long and detailed debate about this issue. It would be cruel in the extreme if this debate were to be rushed through without consideration by the broader community. It is a Bill of significance. There is no doubt about that. In the past, when the issue of abortion and termination of pregnancy has been discussed in this place, there has been a proper debate so that those diametrically opposed to it have had an opportunity to put their case, and there were thousands of them. There were tens of thousands who expressed a view one way or another, whether in writing or - - -

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