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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 10 Hansard (25 November) . . Page.. 2853 ..

MR STANHOPE (continuing):

We are here debating a Bill which Family Planning ACT says will, as a natural consequence, lead to the closing of the clinic. I cannot see how we can possibly proceed with this, in the context of the information that is available to us, our lack of understanding of the implications of the amendments and the grave concerns that have been expressed to us by a number of incredibly senior legal and discrimination representatives within the community and by the society of general practitioners. We are actually debating today the possibility that, as a result of our actions today, in the view of Family Planning ACT, the clinic will close. That is its view. I cannot believe that any member of this place would genuinely suggest that we should charge ahead and do that, with that potential result. It is just unthinkable that we should contemplate it.

MR RUGENDYKE (11.55): Mr Speaker, I do not support the motion to postpone the debate. This debate has been formally on the table of the Assembly for almost three months now and, as Mr Kaine pointed out so succinctly, there has been ongoing debate in the public forum for considerably longer. We have all been working through the issues regarding this Bill and I am sure that we can take the matter forward today. I believe that we should try to make some progress with the Bill. We cannot ignore the Bill or delay it unnecessarily. This Assembly is going to have to tackle the debate at some stage and reach an outcome. I would like to see us utilise the time today to address as much of the procedure as possible. So, Mr Speaker, I do not support the motion to postpone the debate.

MR HARGREAVES: I seek leave to speak a second time.

Leave granted.

MR HARGREAVES: Mr Speaker, no doubt everybody here would like to see the matter dealt with, finalised, packed up and sent home. I, too, would like that. But, Mr Speaker, those of us who have had the privilege of a quick cast of our eyes over the amendments that Mr Moore has produced and the original Bill will note that Mr Moore's amendments address many of the issues raised by the Discrimination Commissioner and the DPP. However, Mr Speaker, as my leader, Mr Stanhope, said, we may not have the wit to make that connection. We may not have sufficient command of the law, or command of the Discrimination Act, to make a judgment in the space of a couple of minutes or a couple of hours. It concerns me that we might be doing that. For all I know, the amendments put forward by Mr Moore may very well address those issues.

But, Mr Speaker, in the course of the last couple of months I have got an absolute barrow-load of information from both sides of the argument. I would like to express my appreciation to those people who have given it to me. Whilst they have contributed to my confusion and my anxiety, they have also clarified many issues for me. However, I was able to sit back and - even though it was a short period of a couple of months - in my view, digest a bit of it. Mr Speaker, I am quite prepared to stand up here as one-seventeenth of this chamber and say that I do not have the capability to digest it all quickly. I make no apologies for that lack of ability.

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