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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 10 Hansard (25 November) . . Page.. 2980 ..

Mr Quinlan: That is the good old family doctor we are talking about now.

MR HUMPHRIES: That is right. Perhaps we can call Dr Bates up to give evidence before your committee.

Mr Moore: You are getting less eloquent, Gary.

MR HUMPHRIES: Am I? I think that there is a need for separation, and I commend my amendment to the Assembly.

Amendment negatived.

MR STANHOPE (Leader of the Opposition) (11.54): I want to raise just one issue. I will raise it by way of debate and hopefully elicit a response from the proponents of the Bill. It relates to the continuing concerns about the way we have done this, and what it all means, and debate about whether or not it is relevant to have included in the legislation references to the Crimes Act. I noticed just by chance that the new Bill, the Health Regulation (Maternal Health Information) Bill, contains a different definition of abortion from the one in the Crimes Act.

Ms Carnell: That is not too surprising.

MR STANHOPE: It is very surprising to me. It is the sort of issue that concerns me about this process we are engaged in. This is the great worry about proceeding down this path. We have in the Crimes Act a definition of abortion. We have in this health information Bill a different definition of abortion.

Ms Carnell: It is not too surprising.

MR STANHOPE: It is very surprising and it is very worrying. If legal action were taken, this is the sort of thing that would really excite the judiciary. All of a sudden there is a separate set of words. Minor as the difference may be, I wonder whether somebody could tell me why we should use different definitions of abortion in separate legislation and what the implications of that are.

MR MOORE (Minister for Health and Community Care) (11.56): Mr Speaker, I am happy to respond to that question, because I have been fortunate to have my senior adviser, Malcolm Baalman, assisting me on this Bill, doing work late into the night. We normally do not mention the names of our advisers, but in this case I want to because he has done so much fantastic work, very late at night and right across weekends, to make sure that this legislation is the least noxious, or obnoxious, legislation. That brings us to the very word that is the difference between the two pieces of legislation. As I understand it, the advice given to him by Parliamentary Counsel was that the difference in wording, as you say, Mr Stanhope, is minor. The word "noxious" was omitted because Parliamentary Counsel considered that the word was old-fashioned, that it was not necessary to keep the definitions exactly the same, and that it was more appropriate to draft the definition in modern language. The explanation is rather simple.

Clause, as amended, agreed to.

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