Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 10 Hansard (25 November) . . Page.. 2843 ..
MR HUMPHRIES (continuing):
This issue has been a vexing issue. There are strong views for and against both abortion per se and this legislation in particular. I do not think that creating a further period of time beyond the three months we have already had to consider these issues is necessarily going to elucidate them for anybody in the community. I think, for that reason, Mr Speaker, that we should do the work which is on the program for today, and that is to debate this Bill.
MR STANHOPE (Leader of the Opposition) (11.17): Mr Speaker, I support the adjournment of this debate. I take the point made most lately by Mr Humphries in his contribution that it is not in the interests of effective law-making to adjourn this matter. I think, Minister, there is a significant difference between effective law-making and good law-making. We can crash laws through, but there is nothing to be gained by crashing through a bad law. The arguments made by my colleagues Mr Berry, Mr Corbell and Ms Tucker are sound and reasonable.
It is not right and appropriate to talk about a Bill that has been before us for three months, as has been suggested. We have had a Bill before us for a week, a second Bill, and the third Bill, in effect - Mr Moore's amendment - which I believe I received a faxed copy of this morning and am yet to open. At this moment I am being asked to consider proposals that I have not yet looked at.
This is an incredibly difficult subject. It is a subject on which there are a range of views. The legislation and the amendments which have been proposed raise the most difficult issues. It is completely unacceptable that we should take onto ourselves today the task of passing into law issues that create the most extreme difficulties for everybody in the community. It is not that we are any great font of wisdom here; we are all incredibly fallible. It is not that we have any special knowledge about the application and the implications of the provisions that we will be dealing with today. This has been drawn to my attention very succinctly by some of the correspondence that each of us has received and, most tellingly, some of the correspondence the Attorney-General has received just yesterday and today.
It must be most alarming to each of us in this place and to everybody in the community to think it is possible that, by the end of today, we will have abortion legislation in the ACT when people such as the ACT Discrimination Commissioner, as late as yesterday, wrote to her Minister, the Minister responsible for her agency, saying:
I am writing to advise you that aspects of the above Private Member's Bill ... appear to me to be inconsistent with the Discrimination Act 1991 ...
The ACT Discrimination Commissioner wrote to her Minister as late as last week to say that, in the view of the ACT Discrimination Commissioner, this legislation breaches the Discrimination Act.
As late as last week, the ACT Division of General Practice wrote to every member of the Assembly saying: