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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 10 Hansard (25 November) . . Page.. 2835 ..

MR QUINLAN (continuing):

As chair of the Chief Minister's Portfolio Committee, incorporating the public accounts committee, I see this legislation as sensible, workable, necessary and in no way restrictive to the shareholders or the Government. In that role, I have already written to the Chief Minister suggesting - without casting any aspersions on the considerable work done by those who serve and have served their community - that a wider range of government appointees may well be available in Canberra. I commend the Bill to the Assembly and look forward to the support of all members.

Debate (on motion by Ms Carnell) adjourned.

Postponement of Order of the Day

MR BERRY (10.45): Mr Speaker, I move:

That order of the day No. 1, private Members' business, relating to the Health Regulation (Maternal Health Information) Bill 1998 be postponed until the first sitting day in March 1999.

Mr Speaker, I have made no secret of the fact that the process in dealing with the issue of abortion in this Assembly has been carried through with indecent haste. Mrs Carnell chuckles. Perhaps she does not think it has been done with indecent haste. Let me go through the history to demonstrate my argument. On 26 August, Mr Osborne, by leave, without going through the usual processes in this Assembly, introduced the Health Regulation (Abortions) Bill 1998. Mr Osborne, before that, had the opportunity to go to the Assembly's Administration and Procedure Committee, as everybody else does, and have the Bill ordered in the priorities set down by that committee and debated in private members business on that day with reasonable notice; but he chose instead, by stealth, to introduce this Bill.

The community reaction was predictable. There was outrage in the community. There was shock in the community at the methods that had been used by this member to introduce this Bill. This is a member, Mr Speaker, who said that he would not turn back the clock. This is a member, Mr Speaker, who quite clearly intended to turn back the clock, quite contrary to his earlier commitment to the ACT community. But that did not sway him from the course. Subsequently, Mr Speaker, there was a rally of proportions rarely equalled in the Australian Capital Territory. Men and women came out in droves to protest at the process, in the first place, and at the substance, in the second place.

Mr Osborne's speech made little mention of his intentions. His intentions then were to close down the provision of abortion services in the ACT and force 1,700 ACT women to go somewhere else for an abortion. Some, of course, would go interstate. It also increased the probability of backyard abortions and, of course, increased the likelihood of illness and injury for women.

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