Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2008 Week 10 Hansard (Wednesday, 27 August 2008) . . Page.. 3847 ..
choose without the pressure and stigma that those who oppose abortion seek to put on it or will he lead a reactionary and morally conservative government that responds more to the dictates of prejudice than to the recognition of the rights of a woman?
They may now—not then, but now—oppose decriminalisation. Where do they stand on the other issues that will equally cause stigma, that will equally cause shame to women who seek legitimately to have an abortion if that is what they believe is needed? Where will they stand, for example, on the issue of photos—requiring women to view demeaning photos of foetuses at different stages of development? Where will they stand on imposing cooling-off periods—as though a woman can be quite rational when it comes to any other medical procedure and giving consent, but when it comes to abortion there is a need for some cooling off as though you are buying a television? Where will they stand on the issue of restricting access to abortion services, government funding for abortion services, the leasing of government buildings for abortion services or even the simple issue of the provision of statistical information and its use to manipulate the anti-abortion calls?
These issues are equally important, and they are silent on them. They need to answer those questions. The Leader of the Opposition, most particularly, must answer those questions. Progressive Canberrans will be looking and thinking about this issue. They themselves will be raising in their own minds the question of whether we are going to be getting a conservative government that revisits those divisive debates of the last decade or whether they will stick with a government whose commitment to law reform and progressive social policy has meant better services and respect for a woman’s right to choose.
MR STEFANIAK (Ginninderra) (9.33): Mr Corbell talked about divisive debates of the last decade. If you feel that way, why on earth did you bring this particular matter on? It is one of the more bizarre things I have seen in the Assembly—in some strange way having a go at Zed Seselja, the Leader of the Opposition. It is quite bizarre! The Attorney asked, “What will the Liberal Party’s position be if it is the governing party after the next election?” Paragraph (1) of Mr Pratt’s proposed amendment states:
the issue of abortion has traditionally been a conscience vote for members of all major parties in all Australian jurisdictions.
Der! Mr Corbell just read out a list of how people voted in the last debate we had on this subject in August 2002. Guess what? Mr Hargreaves and Mr Wood exercised their conscience vote. It has always been a conscience vote for the Liberal Party, and if the Liberal Party is the government after 18 October that is exactly how it is actually going to remain.
Paragraph (4) of Mr Pratt’s proposed amendment states:
the re-introduction of criminal sanctions is not the solution to this problem.
Mr Corbell made much of that and said that this is somewhat hypocritical and a change of position. I do not think anyone has ever been particularly hung up on issues such as criminal sanctions because rarely were they ever exercised in the past. For the government to say that that is hypocritical is hypocritical in itself. Look at how the