Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2005 Week 08 Hansard (Wednesday, 29 June 2005) . . Page.. 2418 ..
us discuss it.” If I have not taken the offer up enough I apologise for that, but I have given the legislation considerable thought.
I think it is fair to say that my record in this place on this sort of issue is that my vote will be cast because that is the way I feel about it and not because of any other instructions. Any other suggestion anybody might have in their mind can be put to rest right now. We are not dealing with a choice issue here; this is about deliberate acts of violence; this is about killing; and we need to consider it in that context. Let me say, though, that I will be watching and listening carefully to this debate to see how people can articulate for me that what we are talking about here is not a re-opening of that debate. If I get a smell of the re-opening of that debate, then I will vote against the legislation. If I can be convinced that it is not, then we will see how we go. I urge all members to consider this legislation particularly seriously; it is not a frivolous piece of legislation at all.
MR SESELJA (Molonglo) (11.11): I wholeheartedly support this bill and commend Mr Pratt for bringing this important piece of legislation before the Assembly. In his opening speech some time ago Mr Pratt went through a lot of the detail of the bill. I am not going to do that but would like to briefly say what I think the bill does and does not do. That might assist Mr Hargreaves in his consideration of this matter.
The bill recognises the serious nature of unlawful actions that lead to the death or serious injury of unborn babies and seeks to provide some form of legal deterrent to such actions occurring. It recognises the vulnerability of both pregnant women and their unborn children. It says to pregnant women that attacks on them or their child are unacceptable and that the law will recognise this by attaching serious penalties to such offences. That is a basic summary of what this law is and what this law will do if it is passed. The bill does not affect the law in relation to abortion. What Mr Hargreaves has said is right; there are no doubt many differing views in this place on the issue of abortion, but this bill does not deal with abortion. It mentions it, but this bill does not affect the law on abortion. Clause 5 of the bill specifically states, “This section does not apply to a lawful abortion.” That is what I think the bill does and does not do.
I was a bit surprised to hear Mr Stanhope in the media some time ago, when the bill was introduced, saying that it was re-opening the abortion debate. I think Mr Stanhope is wrong on two counts at least: one, the bill does not apply to abortion, as I have said; and two, the abortion debate is something that will no doubt go on in the community. I do not think that debate is going to be stopped or started by what we do or say in here necessarily, or by what our laws say, as there are very strong feelings in the community on both sides of this debate.
Referring to the suggestion that this is re-opening the debate. Firstly, it does not affect laws on abortion; secondly, it is a debate that will go on regardless of what we do in this Assembly, in my opinion. There are strong enough views on both sides for this to always be an issue of contention. I can inform the Assembly that that is not what we are debating today. We are debating whether pregnant women—women who want to give birth to a baby—should receive any protection from the law. Where a pregnant woman, through an unlawful act, loses her baby the law will recognise this most serious of losses. I can understand Mr Stanhope wanting to muddy the waters on this—and this is often the case in situations like this—because he does not want to argue the issue on its merits.