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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 10 Hansard (25 November) . . Page.. 2966 ..

Mr Moore: For heaven's sake, Jon, understand what you're doing.

MR STANHOPE: I understand what I am doing. I understand perfectly well what I am doing. I am pointing out to you that this is flawed in its conception and we should not be proceeding with it. We are stuck with it, but I just took the opportunity to point out the incongruity of what we are doing here.

Mr Moore: But you are wrong.

MR SPEAKER: Order! Mr Moore, you will have the opportunity to speak in a moment.

MR STANHOPE: We know that you are sensitive, Mr Moore. We know that you are sensitive about the fact that this will go down in history as the Moore abortion Bill. We know that you are sensitive about that. Mr Moore is extremely sensitive about it. He has done it to himself by his strategic miscalculation on this issue and he has to live with that.

MR HUMPHRIES (Attorney-General, Minister for Justice and Community Safety and Minister Assisting the Treasurer) (11.00): The tactic being used by some members in this place does them little credit. I do not mind if members filibuster if they can dredge up a reasonably plausible sounding argument. But what I have heard tonight is: "What does the objects clause really mean? What does it actually do? Why are we saying that we should be ensuring that women have made a carefully considered decision?". Dear, oh dear! Even in the semi-somnolent state that many of us find ourselves in at the moment, it should not be too hard to work out what an objects clause is all about.

An objects clause is about defining what the general objectives of the legislation are so that, if a court in the future comes to interpret what another section of the Act should mean and they are not clear about it, they can refer back to the objects section to understand what the general objectives of the legislation are all about. It is a perfectly simple concept. You have seen it lots of times before. You do not have to pretend in this place that you are all puzzled about what this objects clause is all about, scratch your head, and say, "What is this all about?". Goodness me, Mr Speaker, let us find a better argument than that if we are going to be dragging ourselves through the wee small hours of the night.

For the information of members, to correct what Mr Berry had to say in an interjection before, the statistics collected by Medicare are not available to the ACT in any useful form. They do not cover procedures on public patients. They cannot be disaggregated by State. Item 6469 of the schedule does not cover all abortions, and that is the statistic that is generally extrapolated from figures available from South Australia, which is the only State to actually collect specific statistics about abortion, apparently. There are good reasons under this legislation why we should be collecting statistics. That is why paragraph (d) appears in the objects clause.

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