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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 9 Hansard (18 November) . . Page.. 2601 ..

MR BERRY (continuing):

Mr Speaker, I would like to try to summarise my perception of what has happened here. We have heard enough about the sneaky way in which the Bill was introduced by Mr Osborne in the first place, and it was due for debate this week. Mr Osborne, of course, has not been served well by that proposed legislation. It has caused him some damage. Of course, he is keen to get it out of the way. Yesterday it became clear that his Bill would probably fail. It is part of the plan, of course, to get the debate about this issue out of the way in this sitting period so that Mr Osborne can get some clear air for other political purposes. The Government, of course, then came forward with some amendments to help him out.

Ms Carnell: No, sorry; Gary Humphries did.

MR BERRY: Well, you speak as one, except for Mr Moore. You speak as one. Mr Speaker, they came forward with some amendments which Mrs Carnell was all over the radio yesterday agreeing with; so the Government came forward with some amendments to help Mr Osborne out. Then they discovered that Mr Osborne's Bill might fail and their amendments would be of no import. They would not even be debated today. One can understand how distraught they might have felt then about not being able to help Mr Osborne out, knowing that in a short time they will want his help in relation to ACTEW.

We then have a situation where they discover that this might be dragged out more than they expected, so the strategy was quite plain. They had to get Mr Osborne to withdraw his Bill and introduce another Bill so that we could get the debate out of the way in this sitting period. So, together, they moved to do this, ignoring everybody else in the Assembly.

The proper procedure, as we know, would have been for notice to have been given by the private member of a new Bill to be introduced at the next private members sitting day, which is next Wednesday. That would have been considered next Tuesday and would have been given an orderly priority in accordance with the procedure of this place. There is nothing unusual about that. The problem with that, of course, is that there would have been a greater delay in getting the matter out of the way. The debate would have ensued. Those in the community who are concerned about this issue would have had more time to think about it and express a view about it, and that is not what they wanted.

This is about ramming this planned legislation through next week. That is what this is about. It is about stopping the community debate because it is harmful to Mr Osborne politically, and it is harmful to others in this place. This is about heading off the community debate - putting it to bed - with a range of amendments which will have a serious effect on the provision of women's health services here in the ACT. It is the work of zealots working together to bail each other out in relation to a matter. There is no concern, particularly about women. There is a great deal of concern about their own conscience and how they can make other people exercise their conscience according to the directions of this place. That is what this is about. This is about taking over the consciences of other people.

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