Page 4152 - Week 13 - Tuesday, 15 November 2005

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I take issue with the suggestion made in the debate earlier today by some members on the other side that the position pursued by the Liberal Party in relation to this of course has nothing to do with an ideological position they pursue in relation to abortion. And, of course, it does. It is simply dishonest to argue that the legislative scheme proposed by Mr Pratt on successive occasions and supported by the Liberal Party in this place is anything other than a device to open up the issue around the status of a foetus. It is dishonest, it is devious and, of course, it is extremely hypocritical. We noted that in the debate this morning in response to this amendment. It was interesting to note the extremes to which the shadow Attorney and the shadow minister for police went to avoid any suggestion that this had anything to do with the status of the foetus. Of course, that is all it was about. This was a devious, dishonest and hypocritical attempt being pursued by the Liberal Party—

Mr Stefaniak: I take a point of order, Mr Temporary Deputy Speaker. “Dishonest” and “hypocritical” are highly offensive words that have been ruled out of order. I would ask the Chief Minister to withdraw them.

MR STANHOPE: On the point of order, Mr Temporary Deputy Speaker: I did not attribute those characteristics to any individual, and it is not disorderly in that sense. I did not attribute dishonesty or deviousness or hypocrisy to any individual. I simply was making the point that an argument that suggests that to seek to introduce legislation that has at its heart a proposal that a foetus be regarded as a life and being without acknowledging that it has anything to do with debates around termination or the right to choose an abortion, is devious, hypocritical and dishonest. That was the point I was making. If there was any suggestion that I was attributing any of those characteristics to any individual, I would, of course, withdraw and I do withdraw. But I was not doing that. I was talking about the device. That is my position and I have made that point.

I will conclude by saying that I find it unfortunate that there are those who would argue for legislation which seeks to create a separate legal status for a foetus in the context of an aggravated offence of assault on a pregnant woman without having the integrity to acknowledge that they are essentially pursing, or seeking to reopen, an argument around termination of a pregnancy. This is not being honest or acting with integrity. That is my position and it is the point I want to make.

Quite obviously, I am happy, of course, without being patronising, for anybody in this place to pursue any issue or any agenda they wish. That is what we do to some extent. We are elected to stand up for our principles, to act pursuant to our consciences on a whole range of issues and, of course, we do that to a greater or lesser degree. You might want to go out and argue and put your position in relation to abortion or termination of pregnancy. I have no issue with that—none at all. I respect absolutely your right to do so. All I am suggesting to you is that when you go out and do it, be open and honest about it. Do not introduce legislation into this place that is designed to open up that issue, to pursue that particular agenda, and pretend you are doing anything other than that. That is the point I make and that is the point I stand by. In any event, I am insisting that the legislative policy position which the government is pursuing through this particular amendment is far superior to the token for legislation which you advance and which you stand up in this place and support.

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