Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 6 Hansard (2 September) . . Page.. 1745 ..
MS TUCKER (continuing):
Obviously, Ms Carnell is taking a very different line today and I would like her to explain the inconsistency of her position. Without that explanation, her protestations in today's debate are a little less than convincing. I acknowledge again that I have been inconsistent also in that I did say yesterday that I would support Mr Berry's motion, but I am explaining to members now why I believe I had to change my mind on that. Heaven knows, I ask the Government often enough to be prepared to change their minds on particular issues. Changing your mind should not be seen as the most mortal sin that a politician can commit. I think it shows that we have to admit, yes, that we are human, and sometimes we get it wrong.
Basically, after considering this, I do not believe, in good conscience, that I can support this motion. The debate has started. The Bill has been tabled. Mr Osborne, as is his right, has tabled that Bill. He believes he is representing his constituency or his personal faith. This motion is about asking a majority of members of this place to persuade him that he does not have that right because many people are opposed to his Bill. That is where I think the flaw is in this motion.
As a member of a minor party which still is a fairly lonely voice on a number of issues that we see as absolutely vital, I would not like to see our right to challenge the majority view diminished in any way within the democratic process. It has just happened in Tasmania, of course. Labor and Liberal conspired together to do that very thing. They did that by changing the electoral system in order to silence the voices that will challenge the majority view.
MR SPEAKER: Relevance, Ms Tucker.
MS TUCKER: It is about democracy. I maintain that this is quite relevant.
MR SPEAKER: No, it is not.
MS TUCKER: This is about the right of a person in a democracy to challenge the majority view, which is what Mr Osborne is doing. The rationale of this motion is that he does not have the right to do that because most people are opposed to the essence of his Bill. For that reason I believe it is perfectly relevant, Mr Speaker, but I am concluding. We cannot support any diminution of this important right in our democracy.
MR MOORE (Minister for Health and Community Care) (11.30): Mr Speaker, I feel very passionately about this issue. I feel very passionately about the issue of abortion because I believe it is about the removal of the democratic right of a woman to make her own choice. Indeed, when I was approached by Mr Berry yesterday about putting this motion to request Mr Osborne to withdraw his legislation, I responded in quite an enthusiastic way.
I have become very uneasy, Mr Speaker, while listening to this debate, and I was uneasy while thinking about it, like Ms Tucker, over the evening. I finally decided why I am going to vote against this motion when Mr Berry said of Mr Osborne that if he does not accept this request he will hold the Assembly in contempt. Any sense of holding somebody in contempt over a request is simply unacceptable.