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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 11 Hansard (21 October) . . Page.. 3433 ..

MS TUCKER (11.40): I am not going to go through all the arguments I have put in this place on a couple of occasions about my concern about this particular piece of legislation and subsequent regulations. I totally support what Mr Jon Stanhope has just said in expressing concerns about the legality of this. I understand that it could well be subject to a court challenge. There is obviously an argument that these regulations are not consistent with the intention of the Act. The way some members of the Executive chose to overrule the clear intention of the parliament to give responsibility to an expert panel to determine what sort of information is appropriate to be given to women is totally unacceptable.

I take the opportunity at this point to say for the record what happened as a result of concerns I raised in the last debate about the accuracy of the pamphlet and the additional material to be added to the pamphlet - the pictorial information and accompanying information about weights and lengths of foetuses. This was another indication of how the process was not only quite concerning in terms of democratic processes but also concerning because of the sloppiness of it.

The original pamphlet that was foisted on us and on the ACT community said that at eight weeks the embryo is three centimetres long. That is now revised to 1.2 centimetres. It has gone from three centimetres to 1.2 centimetres. It has gone from 15 grams to no weight being specified at eight weeks. At 10 weeks, it has gone from 30 grams down to 15 grams and from six centimetres to three centimetres. At 12 weeks, it has gone from 45 grams to 30 grams and from 8.9 centimetres to six centimetres. At 14 weeks, it is now described as 8.9 centimetres, not 12 centimetres, and 45 grams, down from 100 grams. The pictures are the same, I see. I still think you can argue that they are misleading in the way they are presented. But obviously the officials in the Department of Health have allowed that to stay as it was.

The other reason I think it is quite useful to have this debate again is that there is an opportunity today for Mr Rugendyke to speak. I can remember very clearly that when we discussed this matter last time he said nothing. I heard that he wanted to keep his head down on this matter. Perhaps that is why he chose not to speak. I am saying that that is totally inappropriate. As an elected representative, he has a responsibility to tell the ACT community why he has voted as an absolutely critical number in this debate.

It being 45 minutes after the commencement of Assembly business, the debate was interrupted in accordance with standing order 77.

Motion (by Mr Corbell ) agreed to, with the concurrence of an absolute majority:

That so much of the standing and temporary orders be suspended as would prevent consideration of notices 2 and 3, Assembly business relating to the proposed amendments to the Maternal Health Information Regulations and the Food Regulations Amendment having precedence over Executive business in the ordinary routine of business this day notwithstanding any adjournment of debate of either notice until a later hour this day.

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