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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 10 Hansard (25 November) . . Page.. 2848 ..

MR KAINE (continuing):

for example, what Ms Tucker thinks. She has spoken and has expressed her concern, but at the moment we are only debating an adjournment motion. We are not debating the issues of the matter before us. Ms Tucker has expressed some views and I would like to know in some detail the things that concern her.

Members of the Opposition have done likewise. They have made the point that we need to make good law. Of course we do. We would not be here if we were not here to do that. I agree that there are enough questions on the table to raise a real concern in my mind as to whether we should proceed to the in-detail debate on this Bill today. There are very important issues that people will want to put on the table that we all need to go away and think about a bit. I am not convinced that there is a great deal of complexity in the issues raised by this Bill. There are many complexities in the question of abortion, but that is not what we are debating. That is not what this Bill is about. In those circumstances where an abortion is currently legal, this Bill talks about exercising some control over how the abortion is performed.

I do not think that is unreasonable at all. I do not personally find it any more complex than Mr Moore does, but obviously other people do. They are being asked in this Bill to make some very significant decisions that affect the very lives of people in our community, and that is not something that we can do right now, right here. Mr Speaker, I do not agree with the notion of simply pushing off the debate entirely until some time into the future because it merely defers a necessary debate on these matters, but I will consider my position when we have completed the debate in principle. If the Bill is agreed to in principle, there is the question of where we go from there.

I think that that is the point at which some of us would have real concerns about debating some of the issues that are already on the table. Some have not yet been put on the table, no doubt because the debate has not even started yet. I think that that is when some of us would have some real problems with proceeding too far today. I think it is essential that we debate the matter in principle today and then determine where we are going to go from there.

MR SPEAKER: Before I call Mr Smyth, I would like members to listen very carefully to what I have to say. It has been drawn to my attention by the Clerk that the motion before the Chair is that order of the day No. 1, private members business, be postponed until the first sitting day in March 1999 - not adjourned: Postponed. The problem we have at the moment is that that is what we are debating. The motion to postpone consideration is a separate issue. If this postponement motion were to fail, it would not preclude a member moving that the debate be adjourned at any stage. I hope that is clear to members.

MR SMYTH (Minister for Urban Services) (11.39): Mr Speaker, if the facts that have been presented to us are true, in that there are 2,000 abortions performed in the ACT every year, I consider that a very serious matter. Were this debate to be postponed or delayed in any way till March or April next year, half a year, in that period we are talking of the likelihood of a further 1,000 abortions. Clearly, I believe - and I think most here would know it - that that would be the ending of 1,000 human lives and possibly affecting, to a very serious degree, a significant number of the women involved in those abortions.

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