Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 10 Hansard (25 November) . . Page.. 3000 ..
MR MOORE (continuing):
What occurs is not so much what is in this construction. It is this construction combined with clause 15 which it refers to. Clause 15 deals with putting the panel together in order to get the information. That is where the real concern of the DPP comes out. His concern is the way that my amendments have been constructed. It is actually "may" rather than "shall". As members would be aware, "shall" demands, "may" is facilitative. That is where the concern is. The Director of Public Prosecutions says:
It is arguable that new subclause 6(a) would still be satisfied if no information is given where there is no such information because none had been approved. The matter is, however, not free from doubt ...
So, in fact, the Director of Public Prosecutions leads through a series of arguments and concludes that it is not free from doubt, which is a very different construction from the way he started. He does say very clearly that he has dealt with these matters quickly, which is a concern you have raised. He goes on to say:
... and it may be that if no such information had been approved (and then, what if only one - new subclause 15(3), but not (4) or (5)?) then subclause 6(a) could not be fulfilled and so no abortions could be carried out.
So he says there is some doubt. Mr Speaker, I think we have to read it in its context. Although there is some concern there, with every single piece of legislation that we pass in this house there is always some doubt about how it is going to be construed. I cannot recall a piece of legislation going through this Assembly that is totally free from doubt.
That having been said, Mr Speaker, the fundamental issue raised by Mr Stanhope is one that I find difficult. I believe a woman ought not have to go through these pictures. On the other hand, every woman I know is perfectly capable of looking at the sorts of pictures that would be approved by an advisory panel of the type that we have nominated. This is the compromise that I put up that I am most uneasy about, but I put it up as a compromise.
MR HARGREAVES (1.12 am): Mr Speaker, I take up the point that Mr Moore has just made on the presence of the word "may" instead of "shall". The reason I have sat quietly and listened to most of the people that have spoken so far is that I wanted to satisfy myself that the word "may" did actually apply.
The issue, as Mr Osborne says, is how much information is enough if we make somebody stop and think for just that one split second. If this panel is going to provide information and it does make somebody stop just for that one split second, it is really up to that panel to decide how much information it is going to provide in the package. This piece of legislation actually charges this panel with deciding on the things that we have been agonising over a lot. That is why, Mr Speaker, I have foreshadowed the amendment that I have.