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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 9 Hansard (2 September) . . Page.. 2786 ..

MR MOORE (continuing):

There is another factor. I recognise what Mr Humphries and Mr Smyth were trying to achieve here, and what Mr Osborne was trying to achieve with his original legislation, and that was to get more information out. The Chief Minister has put quite a lucid argument about that. But what will happen, I think, is that the booklet that we currently put out will wind up in the bin much more often when it has this information in it as well. The booklet that is currently available is one that women will take and will read. They could find out about actual services. But in this case I think we will wind up seeing many more of the booklets in the bin, so it may be counterproductive to what you are trying to achieve.

In terms of the community generally, I think the court case that Mr Berry spoke about that is foreshadowed on this will mean that the issue will continue and continue in the community. Indeed, I have to say that the matter will continue in this Assembly as well, for a series of reasons. I think this will not be the final case we see in this Assembly if this legislation is not disallowed.

Mr Speaker, I will be careful not to reflect on a vote of the Assembly, but the last time we debated the matter of abortion we did not come out with my preferred result. My preferred result is to have no legislation at all that deals with terminations. We came out instead with a compromise that still allowed safe, medically provided terminations. We set up a compromise that allowed an expert medical panel to determine what was in the booklet, and I think that that compromise is what we should be standing for. It is for those reasons, Mr Speaker, that I will be supporting the motion to disallow these regulations.

MR CORBELL (11.57): Mr Speaker, we should not be here today debating this motion. We should not be here today having to attempt to disallow these regulations that have been proposed by Mr Humphries and Mr Smyth. We should not be here today debating this because we should have accepted that the legislation passed by this Assembly previously made provision for how the information in relation to an abortion would be provided to women. We set up a mechanism for doing that. I disagreed with that at the time, Mr Speaker, and I also voted against that legislation. But this Assembly decided and we set up legislation. We set up a mechanism for determining how this information would be provided and what the information would be.

Mr Speaker, if we had accepted that, we would not be dealing with this today. But some members of this place feel that they know better; that they have more wisdom, insight or expert knowledge to make the judgment necessary about what information will be provided in this leaflet. They are unhappy that a panel of medical experts made a decision which they disagreed with, even though they would not come anywhere close to being able to question the ability or expertise of that panel to make that judgment.

It is disgraceful that we are today debating an issue that should have been resolved by that panel. I do not accept that, as a politician, I have the expert ability to decide what information should be provided on a medical matter. I rely on expert opinion on these matters. This Assembly relies on expert opinion on other similarly technical and complicated matters when it comes to all sorts of other pieces of legislation, so why should we not do so here?

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