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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 9 Hansard (18 November) . . Page.. 2603 ..

MR WOOD (continuing):

On that basis he talks to me about his views and, in a sense, I have been privy to news that is not available to every member of the Assembly. I appreciate talking, but it is also disconcerting when I have information or news and advice that is not available to all members. That is the point I would like to make here; that all members deserve to know what is happening as soon as possible, not just selected members. When Mr Corbell indicated in his speech that at yesterday's business meeting Mr Rugendyke's proposal was brought forward but Mr Osborne's was not, that convinced me, with the other arguments of my colleagues, that the process has not been good enough. On that basis, I will not support the suspension of standing orders.

MR QUINLAN (11.41): Mr Speaker, I will be very brief because I think some of the points have been well made already. I have heard references to other occasions when legislation has been introduced by leave, but I think there are not many issues as serious as this one, not just serious to this place but also in respect of the impact upon the community generally.

What we have seen with the introduction of the original abortion Bill and what we see now are collective tactics to curtail the public debate. I think that is a massive insult to the people who have come out and voiced their opinions publicly and organised events so that their opinions can be made known to us and so that the full debate is teased out. I believe that must happen.

When I look at what I understand to be the amendments or the new Bill I am very concerned as to the potential of the Crimes Act and I want to know the full ramifications of that. This is a very serious matter that impacts upon so many people's lives very directly. We are all on the crossbenches on this one. In this particular case I want the time to be convinced. Even if this new legislation is a watering down of what was previously proposed, it must be debated and we must have the best legal opinion on every word. We need the time to do that. That time should have been provided by the observance of due process.

MR SMYTH (Minister for Urban Services) (11.43): Mr Speaker, so much that has been stated here is about the content of a Bill that we are yet to see.

Mr Berry: I will give you a copy.

MR SMYTH: I have not got a copy. The standing orders tell us that Mr Osborne is entitled to do this. Indeed, Mr Stefaniak quoted examples of when this has happened before. If those who oppose this suspect that they do not like the contents of the Bill then let us address that when the Bill is brought forward for debate. That is not the purpose of this motion. The purpose of this motion is to get the Bill onto the table so that we may consider it. I understand it is not intended to debate the Bill immediately, so all this will do is set the scene. If, as Mr Humphries has stated - I am sure Mr Osborne will confirm this - the Bill was not ready until late last evening, I see no dilemma in tabling it now so that we all might look at it. Indeed, Mr Rugendyke's Bill has come forward without an explanatory memorandum and we will get that when that is ready.

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