Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 10 Hansard (25 November) . . Page.. 2932 ..
MR BERRY (continuing):
I think some quite crazy views have been expressed here tonight in support of weird law, weird law which is intended to create difficulties for women, which lacks true compassion and which only satisfies the narrow views of zealots. This law should not be supported.
MR OSBORNE (8.42), in reply: I thank the majority of members, who, it appears, are going to support this Bill in principle. I understand that there are some amendments to come to the Bill which will determine whether the Bill is passed at the completion. We will get to that after the in-principle debate. I thank the majority of members for standing up and speaking about what this Bill is really about. I especially thank Mr Hargreaves for his courage in relation to this legislation. I could imagine that there would be tremendous pressure on him, not necessarily from his Caucus but certainly from within the Labor Party ranks. I certainly admire the very tough decision that you have made in relation to this Bill, Mr Hargreaves.
Mr Speaker, how interesting was it to listen to Mr Berry's speech? It was not until after 15 minutes and two extensions, in about the twenty-eighth minute, that he acknowledged the High Court in relation to information. This Bill conforms with the High Court principles set out in Rogers v. Whitaker. It also conforms with many subsequent High Court cases. In Rogers v. Whitaker the High Court did not say that all material information must be provided in all medical procedures except in the case of abortion. The High Court made no exemptions.
The provision of information is a basic right for all patients. The provision of information benefits women and the medical profession. What problem does information pose to members opposed to this piece of legislation? None whatsoever. Why are these people afraid of information? Clearly, patients must have time to consider the information provided to them. This Bill, regardless of the garbage coming from those opposed to it, is patient orientated.
I would like to read to you, Mr Speaker, the important checklist of Meg Wallace from the Attorney-General's Department. It is set out in her book Health Care and the Law as follows:
There should be no coercion, patients should be encouraged to be frank, ask questions, and make up their own minds. Provide interpreters ...
Give the patient adequate time to make a decision, ask more questions, talk to others, think about the matter, etc.
Advise the patient that he or she can get another medical opinion, and assist the patient to seek it if requested.
Ensure that the patient understands:
the diagnosis, including the degree of uncertainty in this;
the prognosis, and any degree of uncertainty in this;