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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 10 Hansard (25 November) . . Page.. 2954 ..

MR KAINE (continuing):

I have had a look at Mr Moore's amendments and I can assure you that I have had time during the day, in the middle of all of this debate, to make up my mind about which parts of Mr Moore's amendments I am going to accept and which I am going to reject, and I presume that everybody else has done the same. Nobody can say that they came to this debate this morning without information on the subject and that their information has not been added to during the day. Nothing that is going to happen during the six months of the committee is going to change their minds.

If Mr Corbell and Mr Berry would give me a cast-iron undertaking that, if the Right to Life Association appears before this committee, at the end of the day they will change their view because of what the Right to Life Association says to them, I would be only too happy, but they will not give any such guarantee that they will change their mind during a committee hearing. In fact, Mr Corbell actually gave himself away. He said, "What we should do is let all these people come and talk to us because we should be seen to be listening" - not actually listening, but be seen to be listening. If that is all we are going to do, why waste our time? It will be a waste of time. I conclude where I began. I believe that people already have taken their position and any amount of committee input is not going to change that.

Mr Berry's motion to establish this committee is really quite a clever one because by excluding the five members of the Executive he excludes five people from one side of the argument. So, when the committee reports in May, or whenever, it is really going to be a balanced report, is it not, representing the views of both sides of the argument, when the majority of the members of that committee, using Mr Berry's membership formula, would be from the pro-choice side? We would get a very convincing committee report at the end of the day that says the Bill should be rejected and we should then immediately move to decriminalise abortion. That would be the recommendation. You can see it now.

I reject the proposal for a committee. It would lead us nowhere. It would convince nobody, other than where they are at at this moment. I have to conclude by saying that if Mr Berry wishes, if he thinks the tide and the time are right, to move to decriminalise abortion, he is at liberty to put a Bill before this place and try his luck.

MR CORBELL: I seek leave to make an explanation under standing order 47.


MR CORBELL: Thank you, Mr Speaker. Mr Kaine said that I had said we should listen without listening. At no stage did I use those words. The point I was making, Mr Speaker, was that the process was as important as the outcome.

MR SPEAKER: Thank you.

MR SMYTH (Minister for Urban Services) (10.15): Mr Speaker, I will be brief because this is where we started this morning. I congratulate Mr Kaine and I agree with his analysis. Mr Berry said at the outset that this was to waste time. I thought I heard Mr Corbell say "seen to be listening", but we will let Hansard reveal that for all of us in the morning.

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