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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 10 Hansard (25 November) . . Page.. 2946 ..

MR STANHOPE (continuing):

I have not quite caught up with the penalty unit system yet, but I think that means $20,000 - - -

Mr Humphries: It is $2,000.

MR STANHOPE: It is $2,000. My mind boggles at some of these proposals. A woman in that desperate situation has arrived at that position. She has gone through her own personal anguish. The doctor says to her, "We cannot do anything until you sign this document". The woman says, "I have got no intention of signing anything. Why do I have to sign that?". And the doctor says, "Well, if you don't sign it, I get fined $2,000. So will you please sign it?". This is what we are reduced to. This is a nonsense. I just cannot believe that there are any cogent or sensible arguments for not supporting a committee of inquiry into this issue. There are just none.

We have the evidence of three of the most senior people in the Attorney's department. Irrespective of the views which Mr Kaine has about the propriety or appropriateness of those senior statutory officers making known their views, I must say, Mr Kaine, that I am perplexed that three of the most senior officers in the Attorney's department should feel free to make known to him their concerns about the deficiencies in this legislation and you feel that those three senior officers should actually keep their concerns secret. I understand at one level your concerns; but, in terms of three independent statutory officers, I do not really accept your analysis in that regard.

Mr Kaine: I am a bit perplexed by that too.


Mr Kaine: For different reasons, I suspect.

MR STANHOPE: I understand some of the issues you are seeking to address; but I guess I am saying that I disagree with you, Mr Kaine. These are senior, independent statutory officers, and in the context of this debate it is most relevant that we know of their concerns.

I would like to just reiterate these points: I am concerned that the Assembly seems to be afraid to consult with its community. I am concerned that the Assembly is prepared to be so insulting to the women of the ACT that it will not give them a genuine opportunity to express to this Assembly a woman's experience of what this sort of degrading and insulting legislation means to them, in the context of their relationship with their medical practitioner. I am concerned that we are not allowing the women of the ACT an opportunity to put that perspective and those views. I am concerned that we have arrived at the position we have. As I said when Mr Moore was not here, I am concerned at his fall-back legislation. I am one of those, Mr Moore, that think you have made a strategic mistake. I believe that your judgment on this was wrong. It strikes me as the sort of appeasement that Neville Chamberlain attempted when he came back from Munich, waving his bit of paper. We know that it did not work then, and I do not think it works now in the interests of the women of the ACT. I think you have made a mistake. I think it is fair that I say that I do not share your judgment on this.

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