Page 81 - Week 01 - Tuesday, 14 February 2006

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The members of the ADEC are appointed by the minister and are required to have professional qualifications in clinical medicine, pharmacology, toxicology, or general practice. The ADEC meetings last two days to consider a long list of drug or device applications, and the review process is exhaustive. It looks at all sides of the issue and examines the conditions of manufacture, the clinical impact and, of course, the safety of the drug.

On Monday, the Australian Federation of Right to Life Associations launched the results of its survey of Australians’ attitudes to abortion. Anyone wishing to read that survey would need to go to the federation’s website to get the data from which it drew its conclusions. However, members should not forget to take their calculators as they need to work out some of the more interesting findings that the sponsors did not include in their press release. Members also have to keep in mind that the survey was done in two stages, each of 1,200 respondents, by telephone, and that some of the questions changed between the two stages. Remember that these calls usually occur about dinnertime, and we all know our reaction to calls that interrupt us at that time.

Of the calls that were made—11,553 were actually connected—49 per cent of those answering refused to talk to the interviewer. The 2,400 respondents that did reply represented only 21 per cent of the connected calls. We might wonder why people might refuse to participate in such a survey and whether they would be more likely to be pro or anti abortion. A subsequent press release stated:

51% of Australians are opposed to abortion performed for financial or social reasons.

I do not know what “social” means in that context, but that is the word that was used. If we look at the report we see it shows that 59 per cent of all respondents and 63 per cent of 18-year-olds to 54-year-olds support “abortion for any reason whatsoever”; that is, abortion on demand. Only 37 per cent of respondents said no to abortion on demand. Articles in the press told us that 53 per cent opposed Medicare funding for abortion in those circumstances, but the report states:

53.6% of all respondents support “Medicare funding for any reason whatsoever, that is abortion on demand.”

Given the prelude to that question, which I am very happy to show people later, it is a remarkable response because that prelude predisposed people to say otherwise.

Income tax cuts

MR MULCAHY (Molonglo) (5.36): The people of Canberra will not thank the soon-to-depart Treasurer for his declared opposition to federal income tax cuts. Federal Treasurer Costello declared earlier this year:

The time is right to work on reducing the tax burden.

This was reported in the Canberra Times on 23 January. This is especially important for the people of Canberra because of the structure of incomes in the ACT.

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