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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 10 Hansard (25 November) . . Page.. 3008 ..

MR RUGENDYKE (continuing):

Mr Speaker, I support Mr Moore's foreshadowed amendment. I am unable to support the provisions for children in the original Bill and I am unable to support Mr Humphries' amendment, supposedly substituting the original part. So, that comes down to leaving it as Mr Moore's foreshadowed amendment.

MR OSBORNE (1.38 am): I have to register my disappointment at the attitude of my colleague Mr Rugendyke on this subject, Mr Speaker. I cannot believe that a man - and I mean this in the nicest possible way - who has devoted his life to caring for foster children should be so nervous about being involved in a very serious decision. He is quite happy to accept responsibility for all the other things that happen to these children in their lives; but, when it comes to this issue, I have to say that his attitude has been very disappointing for a man that has spent so long - - -

Ms Tucker: Maybe he respects their rights, Mr Osborne.

MR OSBORNE: Mr Speaker, if members of this Assembly think that a 13-year-old is old enough to make a decision on abortion, I am stunned. I am stunned, Mr Speaker.

Mr Rugendyke: Well, a 13-year-old is not going to go to you.

MR OSBORNE: Keep talking, Mr Rugendyke, because every time you open your mouth you give me more ammunition. I am starting to run out of stuff, so keep talking.

Mr Speaker, we have put a compromise. We accepted that people were not comfortable with the provision for those under 18 years of age. We grudgingly accepted that. So, we looked at the Western Australian version. Most members will know that Western Australia had a very public fight a number of months ago in relation to abortion. It is the State that has the most liberal abortion laws in the country. So, we thought we would do the sensible thing, although our laws are not as liberal as Western Australia's, of adopting their policy on consent. Mr Speaker, I am dismayed that members are too frightened to support that piece of legislation. Once again I have to register my disappointment at Mr Rugendyke's attitude on this matter. It is just too hard for him.

Mr Speaker, I do not think it is acceptable to say that a 14-year-old or a 15-year-old is mature enough to make a decision regarding life and death. I will be supporting Mr Humphries' amendment. It is a sensible compromise. It is in line with the Western Australian model. Mr Speaker, I look forward to hearing from other members on this issue. I look forward to hearing what they think is a sensible way for 13-year-olds, 14-year-olds and 15-year-olds to handle pregnancy. I ask them to explain to me how they are mature enough to make a decision.

Mr Speaker, I say once again that I am disappointed. I will be supporting Mr Humphries' amendment. I hope the majority of members will do the same. As I said, we have moved a little bit of ground, which has been the way with most of this Bill. It is not exactly what we wanted. Compromises have been put up, Mr Speaker. I remind members that it is the legislation from Western Australia. It has been in place for a long time, Mr Speaker. We have received no reports of the courts hearing of any accusations against fathers, which was intimated by Mr Moore when he spoke. There have been no reports of them being in place, Mr Speaker.

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