Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 5 Hansard (27 August) . . Page.. 1456 ..
MR MOORE: Like every Minister in Australia, I will respond to my responsibilities in the appropriate way. Of the highest level order is the fact that we have a democratic system and if this Assembly passes any piece of legislation I will administer it as a Minister in exactly the same way as when I was on the crossbenches and was responsible for legislation that got through this Assembly I expected the responsible Minister to administer it. I would think, Mr Stanhope, that how I would administer this issue would be the same for every Minister around Australia, no matter what their colour or code, whether they were Labor Ministers or Liberal Ministers.
MR STANHOPE: I ask a supplementary question. Thank you, Minister. If you propose to address the public rally organised for next Tuesday night by women's groups, will you explain to them the basis on which you will administer the Bill if it is passed?
MR MOORE: That is speculative. I do not know whether I will be addressing that rally or not, but I have no problems in presenting my position on this. Mr Stanhope, I believe that you and I should work to ensure that this Bill simply does not pass through the Assembly. The Bill is a disgusting piece of scurrilous legislation that has so many problems with it. The process that was used attacks the very democracy of this place and the way it operates. The Bill itself attacks women's rights. It is an attacking Bill. It attacks fundamentals that we are dealing with.
I believe that when members have the opportunity to look at this piece of legislation properly, no matter what their view on abortion is, they will realise that it does not deliver anything other than huge extra costs and pain to people. I have just had a meeting in my office with a range of people, including three psychiatrists from the ACT who say that the Bill is impossible for them as psychiatrists. I believe that a statement will be made by the College of Psychiatrists in due time, before next week, when the legislation is likely to be debated. The problem they have raised with me as Health Minister is that the way the Bill is set out people would come to them on an emergency basis. They currently make room in their practices to try to deal with emergencies. The vast majority of them have waiting lists of between six and eight weeks. The number of people involved would eliminate all real emergencies that psychiatrists would have to deal with. On top of that there is a double jeopardy. A woman will have to go through a supposed counselling process. Mr Osborne says, "Yes, we want to encourage women to go through a counselling process". The counselling process under this legislation is such that they will have to say, "Please, psychiatrist, certify that I am a nut. Please psychiatrist, certify that I am mentally ill; that I am going to have a severe mental problem". That is in some way supposed to assist a woman in dealing with the issue.
This is an appalling piece of legislation that will not work. No matter what your view on abortion is, what you should be doing is looking at the Bill with great care and realising just how bad it is. The more I look at it, the more problems I see with it. At the same time, more and more problems are being brought to me from officers of the Department of Health. I would just like to add something. On this particular issue I have written to the chief executive officer of the Department of Health and drawn his attention to the fact that this is a matter on which people have strong beliefs and stating that when I have requests for information or for people to work on this Bill they should be able to stand aside with no penalty at all. I understand that Mr Humphries is doing the same thing. I think that is a proper way for this issue to be dealt with.