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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 9 Hansard (2 September) . . Page.. 2837 ..

MR SMYTH (Minister for Urban Services) (4.51): Mr Speaker, what is it that we are talking about today? What is it that has prompted this immediate debate? What great evil do these regulations contain that offends some members here that they would seek to move for their disallowance? It is information, Mr Speaker. It is simply information. The irony of all of this is that those who so loudly and most often chant the mantra of knowledge, who cry for more information and constantly tell us that people have a right to know, are exactly the ones who will vote today against the provision of this additional information.

Mr Speaker, in recent months we have seen Assembly committees set up to consider the change of use charge, rural residential development and housing reforms on the basis that members of the Assembly thought that they needed more information. The Assembly said that it wanted more information to consider these issues properly. Mr Speaker, it is curious that those opposite would attempt to put in place censorship on this issue. What they are trying to do is censor the amount of information provided to suit their case, whereas in reality women deserve to have the full range of information presented to them.

If you have ever picked up a copy of the yellow pages guide to the Internet you would have seen a very curious disclaimer in the front pages of that document. It goes something like this: "When surfing the Internet you will encounter sites that you may find objectionable. In that case, do not go to that site again. Please censor yourself, not others". That is the case here, Mr Speaker. As Mr Moore said and as I think you said of Mr Moore's comments, Mr Speaker, in many cases this information may end up in the bin. If somebody chooses to put the information in the bin, that is their choice. But the information should be there for them to make that decision. If it is not read, that is their choice.

Mr Osborne pointed to the High Court's decision on the responsibility of a doctor to provide adequate information. Does anyone believe that someone here would discuss with their doctor a possible operation for a heart bypass, an arthroscope, the removal of a kidney stone or a tumour and would not insist on seeing the X-ray, the CAT scan, the ultrasound or the MRI, would not consult a medical chart or would not look at a textbook so that they could make an informed decision? If you were not happy, what would you do? You would go off and get a second or a third opinion. You just would not accept the doctor's opinion if he says, "Let us remove this because it is bad for you".

Mr Speaker, what is it that we are talking about when we are talking about removing something in an operation? It is a blockage of some sort, a bone fragment or a growth. What is removed when an abortion is performed? Dependent on your view, it is a lump of cells, a growth perhaps or a human being. Should we not know what it is before we proceed to that choice to have the abortion? This procedure is not like any other operation where there is one life involved. I believe that when an abortion is considered there are two lives involved. How do we know that, Mr Speaker? Just look at the pictures. Quite clearly from the pictures we can see a human being forming. With that information in front of them, people can then go and make their decision.

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