Page 3805 - Week 10 - Wednesday, 27 August 2008

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What does Mrs Dunne have to say on the matter? And Mrs Burke? Mr Pratt, you were quite opposed to pro-choice legislation in the ACT. Are you in agreement with your leader that the Liberal government will not seek to re-criminalise abortion in the ACT?

I am pleased because, once again, this Assembly is ensuring that progressive reform in the areas of human rights, stem cell research and a woman’s right to choose will continue to be pursued in the ACT. We are legislators that have been elected to do a job and we cannot shy away from our responsibility on the ground that it is too controversial. (Time expired.)

MR SMYTH (Brindabella) (5.23): My views on the issue of abortion are well known in this place. You have heard them over the past 10 years, Mr Speaker, as I have heard yours. It is an important issue. Let me reiterate my views on all conscience issues affecting life so that there can be no uncertainty about where I stand. I am against abortion, I am against euthanasia and I am against capital punishment. As I have said so many times in this place, I believe in the sanctity of life.

It is unfortunate that Mr Gentleman has taken such a narrow approach to this issue in his motion. The chant used to be—you, Mr Speaker, have used the words during debates in this place and I note Mr Gentleman brought them up—safe, legal and rare. Two of the three issues are yet to be addressed in this place. “Legal” has been addressed by this place. The question of “safe” is yet to be fully addressed and “rare” is never addressed. The simplistic approach of this motion on such an important issue is something that I cannot support.

MR BARR (Molonglo—Minister for Education and Training, Minister for Planning, Minister for Tourism, Sport and Recreation, Minister for Industrial Relations) (5.24): I thank Mr Gentleman for raising this matter. I do believe it is important that, ahead of an election and at a time when the people of Canberra will have to make a fundamental decision about the sort of government they want leading them for the next four years, this issue is canvassed.

In one of her interjections across the chamber earlier, Mrs Dunne accused me of being the first to raise this issue. She is probably right in relation to Mr Seselja. That is probably the case. The reason I did raise that concern at the time was that we had heard nothing from the Leader of the Opposition. In my view, Zed Seselja is the most conservative Liberal leader in the country. I think he makes Mr Smyth and Mr Stefaniak look like chardonnay sipping left-wingers. His position on so many social issues is to avoid, at any point, actually having to take a stance. He avoids having to take a position on any of these issues of substance. I note that he is generally absent from the chamber and absent from any of the votes on important progressive social reform issues—be that in the area of gay and lesbian law reform or in pretty much any other area of social policy.

Let us make it very clear that Zed Seselja is no Kate Carnell. He is no bleeding heart leftie under the guise of a pro-business, sort of small “l” liberal. This man is the most conservative leader that the Liberal Party has in this country. The reason that I raised my concerns in this place on a number of occasions stem back to a Marcus Mannheim

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