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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 9 Hansard (2 September) . . Page.. 2829 ..

MR HARGREAVES (continuing):

The panel is charged with putting balance in the issue. The one big thing that I wanted to see for people contemplating an abortion was the provision of information about the positive sides of carrying to term, including details of the support services that there are for people who decide to carry to term and the support that there is for the father who is faced with participating in that decision. I wanted that every bit as much as I wanted to see balanced information about the other side of it, abortion, which is something that I am not keen on. There comes a time when a judgment on balance and relevance has to be made and this Assembly is incompetent to make that decision. Those who think that they are competent to make that decision are having themselves on.

I turn to the pictures in the brochure. On my first read of it I thought, "Yes, it is okay. It looks pretty reasonable. It is scientific. It talks about embryos, not babies, so it is not trying to lead us somewhere". Later on we started talking about there being language used in there to lead to a certain position. I have no objection to that, but there has to be a balance to it. But there is no balance on the other side. I believe that that is so because we are well-intentioned amateurs, as I have said before, and we are doing the best we can. The panel is an independent body. This is the most serious issue I have been involved in in my life and I hope that I will never have to be again. I might say that I will be voting to try to make sure that I do not have to be again.

I urge members who have not made up their minds about where they stand on this issue to consider not what is in the schedule, but why we created the panel in the first place. It is independent. We all agreed that there needed to be women on it. There was not going to be, I can tell you. Anybody who has a casual look at the gender of the specialists in this town would be able to figure out who was going to be on that panel. I believe that if I can spot somebody who is a lot more competent in making a decision than I am, I should leave it to them. We should give that independent panel the backing of this Assembly. We should say, "You are truly independent".

Heavens above, we give the Auditor-General independence. Why on earth not have somebody who has the power of influence over life and death in this town? I do not want us to be a bunch of well-meaning, well-intentioned amateurs in this place. I urge members very sincerely to disallow this motion and let the independent panel have the independence it should have.

MR OSBORNE (4.28): I noticed with interest some of the things that Ms Tucker said about how males should not be involved in things like this. I am going to use that argument tonight at 2 o'clock when my children wake up. I will say to my wife, "I should not be involved in this. You go and feed the baby".

I will not speak for long. There seems to have been a fair amount of discussion in this place about the use of the word "may". I have to say that my recollection of what went on when this issue was resolved last year is that in my discussions with Mr Moore the issue was not whether something was going to be in a book; it was whether there were going to be pictures or drawings. That was certainly the interpretation that I took from what went on in my dealings with members in this place over the compromise that Mr Moore negotiated last year.

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