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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 10 Hansard (25 November) . . Page.. 2953 ..

MR KAINE (10.08): I do not support the establishment of this committee. I indicated when this debate started this morning that I thought we should proceed with the in-principle debate and keep an open mind on where we might go from there. I have done that today, Mr Temporary Deputy Speaker. Listening to the debate today has convinced me that referring this to a committee to report at some time in the future would get us nowhere other than where we are at right now.

I think Mr Humphries accurately summed it up. People have already taken a position on this Bill. The vote will be no different in three, four or five months' time than it will be tonight. I think people have had the opportunity. This debate has been going on for a long time today and it is going to be a long time before it is finished. I can see that. I can probably expect to go home and have some cornflakes for breakfast when the debate finishes, and I am not looking forward to that.

I think my position probably is no different from that of most other people here tonight. First of all, I did not come to this debate with a vacant mind. I came to this debate with a fairly good background on the issues, and I think everybody else did too. Every one of us has a bunch of files in our office where people have written to us, as Mr Hargreaves said, on one point of view or another. In fact, I have three files. I have those for the Bill, I have those against the Bill, and I have those that are pro-life but against Mr Osborne's initial Bill. They were pro-life but they did not like his first Bill, so I have three files. In addition to those three files of correspondence, I have a very large library of literature on the subject that I have accumulated. I have not only accumulated it over the last two months either. I have been accumulating literature on this subject for over 20 years, during all of which time debates have taken place in this place at various times. So I do not think any of us, including members of the Opposition, came to this debate with a completely vacant mind on the subject. They came here with a fairly good background knowledge. During the last several hours we have debated the question of Mr Osborne's Bill. It is a fairly simple Bill. It is not complex at all, but people have attempted to portray it as being complex. It is a very simple Bill.

During the day I have had the benefit of reading the DPP's position on the matter. I have been able to read the Discrimination Commissioner's position on the matter, and I have to say that that particular submission is considerably one-sided. It is all very well to call up one international agreement that emphasises the rights of the woman and totally ignore another international agreement that talks about the rights of a child, including the rights of a child before it is born. Why did not the Discrimination Commissioner put that one in the submission? It was very one-sided. I have read them both, and I have given them serious consideration. I have rejected much of what was in both of them because I am not sure that they were properly thought through before they were put to us.

I have read the input from the Community Advocate. I have also read quite a large number of other communications that I have received today from quite a wide range of people who were aware that this debate is taking place. Some of them have been keeping their ear to the ground to find out how it is going. During the day a number of people have let me know what they think about the debate that has been taking place today. They have not got closed minds out there. They are not in a vacuum. I have had plenty of input.

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