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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 9 Hansard (2 September) . . Page.. 2841 ..

MS TUCKER (continuing):

But I will comment for the record on section 8 as to what information must be provided. The only place it says "offer," which is what people have been talking about here, is in paragraph (b) - "offer the woman the opportunity of referral to appropriate and adequate counselling". Paragraphs (c), (d) and (e) all say "provide". Maybe members would like to amend that to "offer". Maybe people would be less concerned about the inconsistencies in this piece of legislation.

MR BERRY (5.06), in reply: The first thing I want to deal with is the issue of whether one's personal view is subject to scrutiny in this place. It is, because once your personal view enters the legislative process it is public property, and it is then that you have to defend it. I do not mind defending mine; it is a personal view. But anybody else who tries to impose a personal view on the legislative process has to expect that they will have to defend it. If they cannot defend it, they should not put it into the process. Anybody can have a bit of a whinge about being attacked because of a personal position, but most of us have personal positions on almost everything that comes into this place. If we used that argument we would never be able to criticise what individuals amongst us were doing on any matter. I think it is a bit rich for the Chief Minister to wander in here and bleat about people disagreeing with her personal views stridently and say that they should drop off. I will not be dropping off because I find her personal approach to this issue quite appalling.

Mr Speaker, somebody said a little while ago that we had had this debate some time ago. We sure did, and this Assembly made a decision. Many of my colleagues and I opposed what the Assembly decided in respect of the legislation from which these regulations have arisen, but at the end of the day this Assembly - Mr Humphries, Mrs Carnell, Mr Smyth and others, including Mr Osborne, despite his different view of what it meant - made a decision to put in place an expert panel. Members opposite sung its praises, while those of us on the other side opposed it.

What has happened is that the expert panel that was appointed to deliberate on the issues under the terms of reference it was given has bitten them and they are embarrassed by it. It does not suit their personal ideological position on abortion. It has nothing to do with the provision of information because they made the decision to put an expert panel in place to provide information. It is about infringing on their personal position on abortion. Not one of the people who are supporting this regulation would stick their hand up and say, "I would like to see abortion decriminalised".

My tolerant colleague Mr Kaine sailed into Ms Tucker, a little unfairly, in relation to this matter. I had mentioned males making this decision, too. I do not think either of us was saying that males ought not to be participating in this debate. What we are saying is that we ought not to be taking from a woman the right to consider these issues. I am happy to participate in the debate. I have done quite a bit of talking in this place over the years in relation to the abortion issue. What I am saying - I cannot speak for anybody else - is that we ought not to be making the decision for a woman in relation to the information that is provided. I go back again to that independent panel of experts. They were put there to decide on appropriate, truthful and factual information that might be useful for a woman considering a termination.

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