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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 9 Hansard (21 August) . . Page.. 2624 ..

MS TUCKER (continuing):

It is quite possible that people would then go to the internet and see themselves there. These are the people who are supposed to be caring and sensitive about the experience of women. I think that they need to reconsider what they think they are doing here. I think that it is quite disturbing, in fact, and is inconsistent with a stated commitment to consider the mental health of women.

I am assuming that this provision is actually about trying to reduce the number of abortions, because that is what Mrs Dunne and other people say that they want to see happen, as do I and, I think, as do most people in this place. As has been said several times, people are not pro-abortion; they are pro-choice. We can have a discussion about unwanted pregnancies in our society. I am happy to have that discussion. We have had it already to a degree tonight. But if we really are serious about this subject, let us not put people's personal information on the internet and let us not have every three months information about these particular procedures put into the Legislative Assembly. Let us look at the social condition that creates unwanted pregnancies. Let us look at how consistent sex education is in our schools.

In the inquiry about the health of school-age children, we had consultation with student representatives from colleges and high schools in the reception room here quite recently. One of the things they said was that sex education was extremely inconsistent across the school system in Canberra. We had students from independent and public schools there and that was one of the big issues that came up. There were comments about condoms being available or not being available.

We have an opportunity in this Assembly to do some social research through committee work and so on. We have an opportunity to lobby for greater support for women who want to raise children on their own. The federal government certainly needs to be lobbied on that level. The stigma around single parents is certainly not alleviated by the actions of some members of the Liberal Party in the federal arena. I am sure that people are quite aware of that. We have had the old family values story discussed at length.

I could go on. We are being generous with the granting of leave. If other members would like to seek leave to speak again on this matter, we could talk about how to reduce unwanted pregnancies. I would be quite happy for that to happen, if that is what this is about, but it is about politicisation of the agenda at the expense of women.

MR SMYTH (10.44): Ms Tucker says, "Why do we collect this data?" Why do we collect any data? The data is there so that we can analyse it to see what is happening in our society. The interesting thing is that Ms Tucker said that we do not collect data on other operations. We do, and the details are tabled quarterly in this place. They used to be tabled monthly until the new government decided that they would just put them in the library, instead of tabling them in here and being proud of their achievements.

But we do break down by category inside the waiting lists the different types of surgery performed. This information is not collected. I think that there is a reasonable case for collecting it, if only to see where the numbers are going to determine whether the efforts of those here today have had any effect on making abortion rarer in the ACT.

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