Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 10 Hansard (25 November) . . Page.. 2971 ..
Mr Quinlan: What is section 13 of the Act about?
MR HUMPHRIES: There is no Act. It is a clause in a Bill, Mr Quinlan. It is not part of this debate, but I will take the interjection anyway. Clause 13 of the Bill is about regulating the way in which a person is able not to engage in the activity of an abortion, advice about an abortion or counselling in respect of an abortion.
Mr Quinlan: Isn't that sufficient?
MR HUMPHRIES: It is probably extra icing on the cake. It probably, to some degree, doubles - - -
Mr Quinlan: Belt and braces.
MR HUMPHRIES: Yes, it is belt and braces. Mr Speaker, I make no apology in this case for being extremely cautious about this. I do not want, in any way, to affect the work of some institutions in this city - - -
Mr Berry: You call yourself a law officer. No wonder you are in politics.
MR SPEAKER: Order!
MR HUMPHRIES: I do not know why they are so astonished over there, Mr Speaker. It is a perfectly simple explanation. I would say to members that having that provision there in that form is quite important. It was put there on the advice of senior counsel and I would strongly urge members of the Assembly not to interfere with it.
MR BERRY (11.20): Mr Speaker, that is the most extraordinary piece of footwork that I have seen for a while. Flim-flam is the best description. There is a specific provision in the legislation and the relationship to the Crimes Act is referred to as serving the same purpose and described as belts and braces. What it demonstrates is the need to accommodate a certain ideology in relation to the crime of abortion rather then anything practical as is prescribed by later provisions under clause 13. It shows the gutlessness of those who have been working on this legislation for some time to deal with the Crimes Act. When I first looked at this Bill and it became clear that we were going to get past the in-principle stage, I had it in mind to try to draw up some amendments in relation to that, but I did not think that it was appropriate to do so without looking at what could be the unforeseen and unintended consequences of the amendments in saying things such as: "An abortion conducted under this Act could be regarded as a lawful abortion".
I would want to be a little careful about that so that I fully understood some of the implications. The implication which Mr Humphries has just described is bizarre, given the specific provisions of the legislation later on. It is curious - I think "bizarre" is better - but it is nonetheless a - - -