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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 11 Hansard (21 October) . . Page.. 3430 ..

MR HUMPHRIES (continuing):

This subordinate legislation is about access to information. It is about giving women the right to be able to understand what is taking place in a very important procedure like an abortion. It is not about distorting the facts. It is not about portraying something otherwise than as it is. The information is accurate. The argument was put to me and to Mr Smyth, subsequent to the tabling of Subordinate Law No. 15, that there were some inaccuracies in the original pamphlet we had prepared. We accepted that argument and, in consultation with the Minister for Health and his department, made changes to the schedule to reflect concerns expressed by medical practitioners.

I hope that even Mr Berry would concede that the schedule that Subordinate Law No. 23 gives rise to is more accurate and more capable of creating an accurate impression of what goes on than was the case with the original legislation. That leaves us to ask why are we debating Subordinate Law No. 23 when it improves Subordinate Law No. 15 and Subordinate Law No. 15 has already been debated.

Mr Berry urges us to respect the views of the panel. I simply say to those who think that that is a persuasive argument: What would Mr Berry and other members who support his view in this place have said had the panel recommended the inclusion of pictures?

Mr Berry: We would have said they were wrong.

MR HUMPHRIES: Exactly. I welcome Mr Berry's interjection - only that one. He said that he would have said that they were wrong. Mr Berry is saying that we should support the views of the panel because they recommended against pictures. But had they said that we should have had pictures he would have been opposing the views of the panel. What Mr Berry has confirmed is that the views of the panel are irrelevant to that debate. The issue for us to decide here is: Should there be pictures or should there not?

Mr Berry argued that we should not allow these regulations to extend the scope of Mr Osborne's legislation passed by the Assembly. These regulations do not extend the scope of the legislation. They cannot extend the scope of the legislation, because subordinate laws may not enlarge the scope of what is provided for in the substantive law under which they are made. That is a matter of law. If a regulation does enlarge the scope of the legislation, it will be struck down.

Mr Berry says, "Leave it to women and their doctors". Mr Berry well knows that in previous debates he has exhibited considerable lack of trust in doctors. He has made many disparaging comments about doctors. On this occasion, selectively, he decides that doctors can be trusted to provide women with information about the consequences of an abortion. Women are entitled to written information which gives them a clear picture of what is facing them. I urge members to vote no to Mr Berry's motion.

MR SPEAKER: Before I call the next speaker, I would like to acknowledge the presence in the gallery of pupils from Saints Peter and Paul Primary School in Garran, who are here as part of their local government course. I welcome you to your Assembly.

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