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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 9 Hansard (21 August) . . Page.. 2597 ..

Mrs Dunne: Mr Deputy Speaker, I would like it put on the record that this is unprecedented.

MR DEPUTY SPEAKER: You are not allowed to do that. Resume your seat.

MR WOOD (Minister for Urban Services, Minister for the Arts and Minister for Disability, Housing and Community Services) (8.42): I wish to take up some points relating to women's rights, of which this old bloke claims to be a strong supporter. I have heard from a good friend of mine tonight who spelled out a number of rights of women in respect of fertility.

Generally, they should have control over whether they are pregnant or not. I agree with what she says about those rights. Indeed, women have rights and they should have choice. But for the most part, I contend, they do have choice. In this particularly knowledgeable, educated, aware, informed society that is the ACT women can choose-generally, for the most part, not entirely-whether or not to become pregnant.

My concern is that abortion becomes a fallback method of birth control. To me, it is a very drastic, undesirable method of birth control when better methods and well-known methods are most readily available.

When this legislation was brought forward in the last Assembly, I voted against it. The scene has changed somewhat tonight. I will be voting for it and against the repeal bill, because I believe the information that comes to the community about the number of abortions and the like is important information to know, especially in view of those concerns I expressed earlier today and express again tonight. On that basis, I will change my vote from year or two ago and oppose the repeal of the act.

MR QUINLAN (Treasurer, Minister for Economic Development, Business and Tourism, Minister for Sport, Racing and Gaming and Minister for Police, Emergency Services and Corrections) (8.45): I did not intend to speak more than once in this entire debate, but having listened to it throughout I have become concerned as to some of the presentations that have gone forward. I am concerned that so many statistics have been rolled out to support the case against the original bill and against this bill. Those statistics have been on the harm that abortion might do.

Mr Smyth spoke about when life commences and his fundamental beliefs, which I respect. There was an oscillation between that and statistics. What I heard was that it was intended to take away a woman's right for her own good. That is what it distils down to.

I am fairly certain that those who object to the legislation before us today do so out of their deeply held philosophical convictions. Mr Smyth spoke of his heritage. My partner and I were brought up as Catholics and went to Catholic schools. We no longer consider ourselves to be of that group called Catholics. I do not want enter into religious discussion or challenge anybody's beliefs on this point. But occasionally my partner and I jive each other over the Catholic guilt complex. One of the hallmarks of your Catholic background, particularly your Irish Catholic background, is the big guilt trip.

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