Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 10 Hansard (25 November) . . Page.. 2903 ..
MR STANHOPE (Leader of the Opposition) (5.04): Mr Speaker, I will not be supporting this Bill. I also have to say at this stage that I do not support Mr Moore's amendments. There is about Mr Moore's amendments just a whiff of a Faustian compact that leaves me feeling rather uncomfortable. I also do not adopt the very sanguine acceptance that some of those who have spoken in favour of this legislation have about its genesis and the basis for the legislation - the very bland statement that this Bill is just about the provision of information. That this Bill is just about the provision of information is a claim that I have heard, particularly from Mr Smyth and Mr Stefaniak; that we simply want women to be aware of all aspects of the procedure that they are seeking. It seems to me that in a claim such as that there is a suggestion that the information that is currently being provided is in some way inadequate.
There seems to me to be a suggestion that the Reproductive Healthcare Services Clinic is not acting in a professional and competent way. It seems to me to suggest that members of this place have been lobbying the Minister and have been lobbying the Reproductive Healthcare Services to improve their information and the information they provide. I think it is interesting to ask what lobbying has Mr Osborne done of the Minister for Health? Mr Moore shakes his head and says none. What lobbying has Mr Smyth done? What steps have been taken by Mr Osborne, Mr Smyth, Mr Stefaniak and the others who have indicated that they are supporting this legislation to determine whether or not the information that is currently provided is adequate? None.
Every member of this place, I think, has been provided with a kit of the information that the Reproductive Healthcare Services currently provides to women seeking their assistance. There is information provided on a whole range of subjects, detailed information. There is a client information pamphlet, information on anaesthetics, a brochure on patient information, a brochure on termination of pregnancy information for general practitioners, termination of pregnancy post-operative instructions, and a brochure on possible after-effects and complications following termination of pregnancy. All this information is currently provided by a competent professional and dedicated service. I bet not a single member of this place has made representations to the Minister.
In my time here, over this last year, there has not been a single debate on the adequacy or otherwise of this information. Why do we need legislation? We have a set of information. It is quite detailed information. If members had concerns about this information why did they not raise it as an administrative matter in the same way that people in this place raise questions about a myriad other issues? They take it up with the relevant Minister. They write letters. They lobby. They seek to have amendments made. They seek to have improvements made. How many times have Reproductive Healthcare Services or Family Planning ACT rejected overtures to review their literature? Have Family Planning ACT and Reproductive Healthcare Services been engaged in a battle, refusing to amend their literature? The answer, clearly, is no. Because it is clearly no, I think each of us is entitled to be very cynical about the reasons why we are now debating this legislation. In fact, we are not just entitled to be cynical about the reasons why this legislation has been introduced. We would be incredibly naive to think that it is just in order to ensure that women seeking an abortion are appropriately counselled or have appropriate information available to them. That would be an incredibly naive view for us to adopt.