Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 10 Hansard (25 November) . . Page.. 3007 ..
MR MOORE (continuing):
is a traumatic experience. I must say that I can understand why somebody like Mr Humphries would not find it that way because, having practised law and been in and out of a court each day, it all seems fine, it all seems normal and so on. But, Mr Speaker, I think we need to keep that in mind when we are looking at this unacceptable amendment that Mr Humphries has put up.
Another interesting thing to me, since the legislation that we are dealing with is mostly being decided by men, is what happens when young women, under 18 years of age, go into court and say, "I want to have an abortion and the reason I am here is that I do not want to discuss it with the family". If they want to be sure that the judge is going to say yes, what is the most obvious excuse for them to use as to why they do not want to go and talk to their father and why they want to go to the court?
Mr Humphries: Why do they need an excuse?
MR MOORE: Mr Humphries said that they will not need an excuse, and I think that is fine. But people, when they ask for something, are used to giving reasons; it is a normal thing. The reason they might give is: "I just don't want to tell my dad because he's a nice guy and he wouldn't want me to be here and he wouldn't want to know that I was pregnant". They may use that reason, Mr Speaker. I suppose that would be one of them; but I think there are other possibilities for making sure that you get the answer you want, and I think members should keep that in mind as well.
MR RUGENDYKE (1.33 am): Mr Speaker, the law recognises that children are able to make their own decisions where they know and understand the consequences. That is one of the reasons why I find fault with the provision in the original Bill for the treatment of children under the age of 18 in relation to abortion. For a start, the definition of parent is far too broad, in my opinion. What about the disgruntled, separated parent who might want to give consent on behalf of a child simply to upset the other parent? It includes guardians. Does that include me as a foster carer? I certainly do not want to be in that position, and nor should I be.
Look at the case of what happens to a child in care under a residential order. The Bill mentions residential orders for I know not what reason. It does not mention wardships; it does not mention other kinds of care orders. Look at the task the Director of Children's Services is charged with. In the case of a child, the director must give consent. The primary objective of the Director of Children's Services is to ensure that the best interests of the child are paramount. Which child takes precedence here - the mother or the baby? What a ludicrous situation for the Director of Children's Services to be put in!
Mr Speaker, we have an attempt here to put an alternative view, based on the Western Australian legislation. To my mind, Mr Speaker, it is just as appalling. A child might have to go to court to seek consent or to get what she is looking for. What child is able to go before a court under those circumstances? This is ludicrous. This piece of legislation defines "parent" as a guardian. That could include nearly anyone, Mr Speaker.