Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 10 Hansard (25 November) . . Page.. 2841 ..
MR CORBELL (continuing):
How can we, in good conscience, suggest that we are in a position to pass this legislation today? How can we, in good conscience, argue that we understand the implications of this legislation and, indeed, the effect that the proposed amendments will have upon it? How can we, in good conscience, say that we are ready to make a decision in such a hurried way but we will require women to wait three days? How can we make that sort of judgment? How can we do that in any good conscience?
Mr Speaker, I think it is appropriate that we wait until we have had an opportunity to discuss these complex social, political and legal questions in significant detail - discuss them with our colleagues, discuss them with our constituencies, discuss them with those who wish to raise matters with us. Mr Speaker, I will quote from a number of letters which I have received on the issue of abortion legislation. The first is from Bishop Richard Randerson, who is the Assistant Bishop for the Anglican Diocese of Canberra and Goulburn. He says in his letter:
Indications are that these complexities are already taken seriously by both family planning professionals and by women inquiring about terminations. Because of such complexities, I believe that a task force to make a detailed investigation ahead of any new legislation -
any new legislation, I emphasise that -
is the only responsible way to proceed.
And, briefly, I quote from another person who has contacted my office:
A matter as important as this should be open to extensive debate at the very least.
Mr Speaker, after a week of seeing this Bill on the table and after less than 24 hours of seeing the amendments which are proposed for this Bill, to then make a decision on it is, I believe, completely unacceptable. As members of this place, not only do we have a responsibility to make laws, but we have a responsibility to make good laws, and we have a responsibility to make them in the best interests of the people of the Australian Capital Territory. If we proceed down the path today of making this legislation, not only will we do ourselves a great disservice, but we will do a great disservice to the people of the Australian Capital Territory. For that reason, I urge members to support the adjournment today.
MR HUMPHRIES (Attorney-General, Minister for Justice and Community Safety and Minister Assisting the Treasurer) (11.12): Mr Speaker, I do not support this motion. There are a number of reasons for providing for motions and legislation of this kind to be debated within a certain timeframe. Of course, much of the legislation that this Assembly has considered in the past has been considered in rather shorter timeframes than three months - which is, in effect, the time from when this issue was first raised in some degree in the form that it is before us today to our reaching this particular point today.