Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2017 Week 07 Hansard (Wednesday, 2 August 2017) . . Page.. 2336 ..
Not that long ago the ACT Liberal Party sought to amend the legislation that established protection zones around approved abortion clinics. They readily overlooked women’s physical safety and mental wellbeing when they sought to water down the restrictions placed on the protection zones. Instead they would prefer to support protestors whose actions where intimidating and harassing women who were accessing legal medical procedures.
The position of the ACT Liberal Party is arrogant, it is paternalistic and it shows a lack of understanding and respect for Canberra women. It treats women as second-class citizens who should cede control of their bodies to the government if they happen to fall pregnant. It undervalues their potential and their aspirations.
I am relieved, genuinely relieved, that my body is not subject to this oppression. I am proud that the ACT government has liberated a woman’s right to choose. I am proud that ACT Labor stands with ACT Greens on this. I call on the Leader of the Opposition to overrule the shadow health minister and other Liberal Party members to support a woman’s right to choose. It is, after all, 2017.
MR COE (Yerrabi—Leader of the Opposition) (11.25): The opposition is not at all surprised that we have a motion like this on the notice paper again. We have come to expect that government members will keep lodging their attempted wedge motion of the week in the Assembly. Of course, much of this motion includes statements that we do subscribe to. However, clause 5 is yet another example of this government playing cheap politics. It is a serious issue.
This clause, clause 5 of the motion today, is unbecoming of those opposite. Is the Labor Party saying that they do not tolerate people in our community who have a different view? Is the Labor Party saying that people in our community are not entitled to exercise their conscience on this issue? Is the Labor Party saying that people who are pro-life are lesser citizens of Canberra? There is no place in the Assembly or in Canberra for Labor’s bullying tactics.
Regarding the stance of opposition members on abortions, the Canberra Liberals treat this issue as a conscience issue. We always have and Labor knows that. Unlike the Labor Party, we have a diversity of views in the Canberra Liberals and we foster that diversity. Unlike Labor, which seems to have MLAs with identical views on every issue, the Canberra Liberals reflect Canberra at large by having a diversity of views on this issue and on many issues.
My personal view is known and I do not shy away from that. But unlike what Ms Cheyne tried to request that I do, I will not impose on my colleagues my view and nor do I expect my colleagues to impose their view on me, least of all on a conscience issue. Each member that is listed in clause 5 in this motion has been elected to this place by the Canberra community and each member listed in clause 5 has been re-elected to this place.