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Thursday, 25 September 2014
Page: 7076

Senator IAN MACDONALD (Queensland) (10:40): I will not take much of the time of the chamber on this debate. I cannot believe that there would be any senator—there would be few people out there in the wider public—who would not support the thrust of this bill or the sentiment underlying it. To suggest that a pregnancy should be terminated simply because of the sex of the child—because the parents wanted a child of the other sex—is just repugnant and repulsive. As Senator Ruston said, it is almost a shame that we should have to debate this bill.

So, I indicate to Senator Madigan that I will be supporting his bill. If it were brought on for an earlier vote I would be supporting that, as well. I might say to Senator Madigan and to Senator Bullock that when it comes to other questions relating to the abortion debate we would, perhaps, part company—although, I do not say that definitively. But I cannot believe that there would be any senator who would oppose the sentiment of the bill and therefore what is written in this bill.

As others have said, whether this legislation is needed is questionable. Again, as Senator Ruston said, I understand that in three states there is specific legislation on this. I heard what Senator Moore said earlier—that there is no real evidence that this happens. If this bill were passed by the parliament and became law, you would hardly think that someone who did want to terminate a pregnancy—I cannot believe that there would be too many people who would do this—because they work out that that is not the gender they want for their child, then they would hardly walk into their doctor waving a red flag and say, 'Hey, Doc, I don't want a boy; I want a girl, so give me a termination.' So it is going to be difficult to police in any case, but in so far as this bill sends a message and indicates the will, I am sure, of all parliamentarians—and, I would venture to say, 99.9 per cent of the Australian public—then there would be no reason for anyone to vote against this bill.

There are a number of arguments that have been raised by other people in this debate. It does not serve a great deal of purpose to repeat them. I was interested in Senator Bullock's honesty and frankness when he said that the Labor Party has a strategy to talk this out. I am disappointed that that sort of thing happens. It rarely does happen—particularly on Thursday mornings—but it is interesting that the Labor Party have adopted that strategy. I would hope that the majority of the Senate will, at some time, have the opportunity to express their views on this. I am very confident that it would receive overwhelming support.

I conclude by saying that on a range of issues I have different views from some of my colleagues on this side of the chamber, but on this particular question before the chamber at the moment I think all senators, regardless of their party affiliation, would be united in support for the principles espoused in this bill. I will be supporting the bill.