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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 6 Hansard (2 September) . . Page.. 1736 ..

MS CARNELL (Chief Minister and Treasurer) (10.56): Mr Speaker, I will not be supporting Mr Berry's motion which asks Mr Osborne to withdraw his proposed deregulation Bill. Mr Berry, although he made much of a play that this was only a request to Mr Osborne, indicated that if Mr Osborne happened to ignore the Assembly if this motion were passed he would be holding the Assembly in some form of contempt. They were his words, Mr Speaker.

Let me say for a start that I absolutely abhor Mr Osborne's Bill. I do not support it. However, I support his right to have this sensitive issue of abortion debated in this Assembly, as I support the right of every other member to have every issue that they choose debated in this place, no matter how big a percentage of the community support it or oppose it. Mr Moore has often brought forward issues that may not have the support of the majority of the community, but he has had a right to debate them in this place. Similarly, Ms Tucker has brought forward issues that may not have majority support in the community, as has the Labor Party; but we as an Assembly have never said to a member of this place, "You may not debate something that is important to you and possibly your constituency", no matter how big or small that constituency may be.

Mr Speaker, our system of democracy is built on many ideas, but one that is at the core is the right of citizens and their elected representatives to express their views and to have these opinions heard. I may not agree with Mr Osborne on abortion, but nobody in this place is surprised that Mr Osborne has come out with this piece of legislation. Mr Osborne has made it quite clear that he is against abortion. He has made it quite clear in the media and everywhere else. There is also no doubt that Mr Osborne does have a constituency. It does not matter, as Mr Berry said, whether Mr Osborne's constituency is a minority. It does not matter how small that minority may be. If Mr Osborne wants to have his Bill debated he must have the right to do that. I think Mr Berry made the point in his speech that what this motion is about is ensuring that this Bill does not come forward. They are his words, Mr Speaker, not mine.

I think it is important, Mr Speaker, to look at the history of this Assembly on issues like this. Mr Berry raised the issue in 1994. It is true that there was a motion to ask Mr Berry to bring on his Bill for debate. It did not say, "We do not want to debate this Bill"; we wanted to bring it on for debate. That motion lost. I think it is important, though, to quote Mr Berry. Mr Berry said in that debate:

Many would simply wish that the issue were not debated.

It looks like that is what Mr Berry believes now. He continued:

May I say to you that for too long many have been saying that this issue should not be debated. May I also say, with some regret, that throughout the years it has been mostly men -

look at those opposite -

who have said that it should not be debated.

But again, Mr Speaker, men. Men, Mr Speaker.

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