Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 9 Hansard (2 September) . . Page.. 2788 ..
MR CORBELL (continuing):
I challenge members of the Government proposing this action to produce legal advice which demonstrates that the advice of the panel and the actions of the panel are contrary to the Act. Let us see it. I have not seen anything to date. Maybe then they might have grounds. Until they do, Mr Speaker, I cannot accept this. I cannot accept the Government's proposal because it is patronising in the extreme.
One final point I want to make, Mr Speaker, relates to a point made by Mrs Carnell earlier when she said, "I believe in the provision of information". So do I, Mr Speaker, but I do not think there is any other piece of legislation around or emanating from this place which specifically states exactly what type of information we should give to a person when that person is to be informed about a medical operation. I cannot think of any other piece of legislation that specifies that in the level of detail we are dealing with here today. Yes, there are other pieces of legislation that require information to be provided that set up mechanisms for determining what that information shall be, but I cannot find any other piece of legislation that specifically states the type of information about a medical operation in the level of detail proposed in these regulations.
Mr Speaker, we should not be having to take this course of action today. We should have accepted what the Assembly decided when it passed the Health Regulation (Maternal Health Information) Bill last year. That is where we should have left it. We should not be dealing with this here today. I will be voting to disallow these regulations.
MR STEFANIAK (Minister for Education) (12.06): Mr Speaker, I will be voting against Mr Berry's motion. I have listened with interest to what members have said so far and I also refreshed my memory by going back to the debate on 25 November which went into the early hours of the morning.
Mr Speaker, there are a couple of relevant sections in this Act. I think these regulations that my two colleagues have brought forward go some way towards clarifying a problem and, indeed, a potentially difficult situation. The relevant section is section 14 of the Act, which I think was described as clause 16 during the debate last year, although I am not absolutely certain of that but it seems to jell, and it deals with a number of things. Section 14 deals with the approval of information pamphlets. Subsection 14(1) sets up the advisory panel. Then there are three very relevant subsections. Subsection 14(2) says:
The Advisory Panel appointed under subsection (1) may, for the purposes of paragraph 8(1)(c), approve materials containing information on the medical risks of termination of pregnancy and of carrying a pregnancy to term.
Subsection (4) then goes on to say:
The Advisory Panel appointed under subsection (1) may, for the purposes of paragraph 8(1)(d), approve materials which present pictures or drawings and descriptions of the anatomical and physiological characteristics of a foetus at regular intervals.