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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 9 Hansard (21 August) . . Page.. 2511 ..

MR HARGREAVES (continuing):

In other words, people are not obliged to take part in it if they feel they should not for some reason or another. I think Ms Gallagher's wording actually beats that other bit and provides a better protection than is in that measure, and it is just a regret for me that it does not stand on its own.

Mrs Dunne's legislation talks about the reduction of the period of jail. (Extension of time granted.) The issue of reducing the penalty from a number of years to a month or something like that misses the point. The point about the sentence is the stigma that it carries with it. I don't care whether you sentence somebody to five minutes jail or 500 years jail; it still carries the same stigma. That's why I can't support that. I don't think the principle of it changes by the length of time. Further, with the measures on coercion, my understanding of them, from the lawyers' advice, is that coercion is in fact a bit similar to accessory before the fact. If something has been unlawfully done, a person coercing another to actually perform that act can be charged with exactly the same thing as the person performing the act, and if found guilty gets the same penalty as that person performing the act.

If, for example, a person is coerced into robbing a supermarket, the person who does the coercing or the influencing-because coercion is merely a gradation of influencing-cops the same charge as the person who pulled the gun out in the supermarket.

So there is no need for this. It already exists within the law. What we need in fact is to discover ways in which we can actually apply the law-because one of the hassles of all time is that nobody is going to stand up and say, "My dad coerced me into doing this" or "My husband coerced me into doing this" or "My husband coerced me into not doing this." You just can't prove it. So one of the issues about the legislation is that the provisions already exist within the law and you can't actually do it. And those issues were put out quite clearly.

Again, I want to thank my Labor Party colleagues for the respectful way in which we have conducted ourselves in the course of these considerations. I won't be supporting the Crimes (Abolition of Offence of Abortion) Bill. In fact, I won't be supporting any of them, but I have a regret about Ms Gallagher's bill.

MR WOOD (Minister for Urban Services, Minister for the Arts and Minister for Disability, Housing and Community Services) (11.30): Mr Deputy Speaker, the present law about abortion is unsatisfactory and undesirable, but I will not be voting today for change. What is also undesirable is the fact that there are far too many abortions carried out in this city-far too many.

The debate on this issue is focused on diametrically opposed views. I would prefer to see considered examination of all the options that might be undertaken to reduce the number of abortions. In today's society that is no easy task, but all we have heard in the last six months is an argument about yes or no. If that focus was changed, we should be able to consider options to bring down the number of abortions. I won't vote for Mr Berry's bill because it takes us to the position where abortion is simply another medical procedure-routine, all right, just an ordinary part of life, a convenient way to remove something we really didn't want. Life, the creation and sustenance of life, is more important than that.

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