Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 1 Hansard (12 December) . . Page.. 108 ..
MR BERRY (continuing):
Many would wish that the issue were not debated, that it would simply go away. For too long many have said that it should not be debated. Unfortunately, the large majority of those have been men. The responsibility for the current situation falls on the shoulders of men. It is no good wishing that the issue will go away because it will not, not while sections 44, 45 and 46 of the Crimes Act stand.
We as legislators have to accept that it is our responsibility to make good law and not to sit idly by and ignore bad law because it is controversial. We have the opportunity as a mature legislature to send a message to the rest of the Australia. They, like us, are dominated by men. It is time to send the message that we have a responsibility to move in line with community attitudes.
Finally, I would like to address the conscience vote. A lot has been said about the conscience vote, and it is well known that both major parties in this house will condone a conscience vote on this issue. For me, the issue is clear. It is not my conscience which should decide whether a woman has an abortion.
MR DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Cornwell): The question is that this bill be agreed to in principle. Ms MacDonald.
Motion (by Mr Stefaniak) proposed:
That the debate be now adjourned.
MR DEPUTY SPEAKER: Thank you. That is the normal process.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
MR DEPUTY SPEAKER: The question now is that the resumption of the debate be made an order of the day for the next sitting.
Mr Hargreaves: Mr Deputy Speaker, I seek clarification from you. You have just said that the normal procedure was followed. It is my understanding that whenever a bill is put down by a private member the responsible minister adjourns the debate on that bill. Is that not the case? I was of the understanding that the member who would automatically or normally adjourn debate on a private members bill is the responsible minister.
MR DEPUTY SPEAKER: Not necessarily.
Mr Hargreaves: Is there a precedent that goes with that?
MR DEPUTY SPEAKER: Not necessarily, Mr Hargreaves. It is normal for debate on the bill to be adjourned after the introduction, but it does not necessarily have to be done by the responsible minister, although in this case it is possible that that is so, Mr Stefaniak being the shadow Attorney-General.
Mr Stanhope: I take a point of order. I do not think that this is a big issue, Mr Deputy Speaker.