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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 9 Hansard (18 November) . . Page.. 2588 ..

MR BERRY: Indeed, Mr Speaker, and I am going to the reasons why the suspension is occurring.

MR SPEAKER: Just be careful.

MR BERRY: Mr Speaker, we did not hear Mr Osborne express one jot of sympathy for those 1,700 women who would be forced to go interstate for the termination of a pregnancy if this Bill was carried by this Assembly, not one bit of sympathy. That is the appalling part of it. Mr Speaker, we never heard Mr Osborne mention a young woman who might be a high school student who is forced to go to Sydney, up and back in the one day, who has to borrow money from friends, keep it a secret, have a termination and return to the ACT in a shocked state as a result of his legislation. He has no sympathy at all for those people. He has no sympathy at all for the person whose financial circumstances are such that they cannot afford to go interstate for these sorts of procedures, none at all. No, Mr Osborne is just concerned for himself. That is why he has used stealth all the way along with this legislation. It has been an outrageous performance, an appalling performance. It is one that the community has the right to be deeply concerned about and ashamed of.

MR STANHOPE (Leader of the Opposition) (10.52): I wish to make a very short contribution to the debate on the motion to suspend standing orders. As I think all members in this place know, I have indicated from the outset that I would be opposing Mr Osborne's original Bill. I at all times have respected Mr Osborne's right to introduce legislation on any matter that he wishes, and I remain of that view. The point I make in relation to my opposition to the suspension of standing orders is the concern that I have consistently expressed since this matter was first raised months ago, and that is the faulty processes that have been used from the outset in relation to this debate. It seems to me that by agreeing to the suspension of standing orders today we simply compound the fact that the process in relation to this debate that this community is currently having on abortion will continue to be flawed. The process does not allow appropriate consideration by members of this place of what is intended or what is going on. It has not allowed appropriate community participation or debate.

The daily program for today lists as order of the day, No. 1, Mr Osborne's Bill, the Health Regulation (Abortions) Bill. Mr Osborne, when he stood and spoke this morning, sought leave to introduce a different Bill and to initiate a debate on a different set of proposals. This process has been flawed from the outset. Agreeing to the suspension of standing orders today to allow Mr Osborne to introduce a Bill distinct from that which has been on the notice paper for the last few months seems to me to compound the problem that we have had from the outset - namely, a lack of process, a lack of opportunity for members to be lobbied and educated on the implications of all these things, and a lack of opportunity for the community to be appropriately involved in one of the most serious issues to confront a community.

We should not agree to the suspension of standing orders today to allow this faulty, flawed and unacceptable process to be maintained and continued. The daily program has on it for debate today the Health Regulation (Abortions) Bill. If Mr Osborne does not wish to proceed with that he should withdraw it.

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