Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 6 Hansard (2 September) . . Page.. 1744 ..
MR SMYTH (continuing):
that Bill will be quite within their rights. On this side of the house, some of us would be in favour of it and some of us would be against it. But that is not the issue. The issue here is an attempt by the Labor Party to deny Mr Osborne his fundamental right as an MLA to present legislation to this place, and they should be ashamed of themselves.
MS TUCKER (11.23): Mr Speaker, the Greens will not be able to support this motion. I understand that Mr Berry has the very best of intentions in putting it forward in regard to the Bill and what he is trying to achieve. However, after considering it overnight and this morning I am not able to be consistent with what I said at the rally yesterday, which was that I would support this motion. Of course, I am totally opposed to the Bill. I have made that quite clear. For that reason, initially, it did seem an acceptable mechanism to be used in this place. But the issue we are discussing here is not abortion. What we are discussing here is the democratic process.
Mr Osborne did not support the democratic process, I believe, in the way he tabled that Bill without consulting with us. Certainly, it was not respectful of the democratic process to want to see it not only tabled without consultation, but also debated quickly. I was not present for the debate last Wednesday because my daughter was sick. Labor apparently did try to ask the Assembly to insist that, at least, the second stage of the debate should be delayed until there was time for consultation and further discussion in the community. I would have supported that, I believe. Obviously a strong statement was being made about how inappropriate it would have been, in fact, if we had been forced to have the second stage of that debate occur within a few days.
Yesterday at that rally I believe that 2,000 people opposed the Bill, except, obviously, for the Christian group that was there and maybe others. The majority of those 2,000 people yesterday opposed Mr Osborne's Bill, so, obviously, they were applauding anything that they thought was going to have that Bill rejected. Withdrawal of the Bill was one of the mechanisms suggested. However, after due consideration and careful thinking, I do not believe that this would be an effective way of seeing this Bill go down.
If the Bill is just withdrawn it can easily be tabled again. It could be tabled in a different form. If we have a full debate people have to stand and be counted on this, and they will have to vote one way or the other. If Mr Osborne's Bill goes down at least we will know that there has been a debate on this. Under standing orders, I believe he could not raise it again for another year. That would deal with the matter in a way that is much more effective and is what the community wants to see happen.
I was concerned that Ms Carnell apparently was not respecting the democratic process. If she wants to clarify that this was not the case, I invite her to do so. I understand that on the morning after the move by Mr Berry for the debate to be adjourned, which was not supported by the Government, as I understand it, Ms Carnell said on 2CN that she thought there should not need to be a long time given to the discussion because people basically knew the issues. I think that at that time seven men in this Assembly were undecided about the vote. Obviously there was a need for the issues to be given greater airing. I do not think people know all the issues. More time was very appropriate in that situation when so many members of this Assembly were undecided.