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Friday, 16 December 1983
Page: 3980


Senator WALTERS(1.03) —Just before Question Time Senator Tate was talking about the fact that he belonged to the Right To Life Association in Tasmania and in the same breath was talking about Mrs Tighe. They belong to different organisations altogether. I am not sure whether Senator Tate is aware of that. The Right To Life Association in Tasmania has nothing to do with Mrs Tighe's organisation in Victoria. He may not be aware of that but that is a fact . He came into this place as a lawyer and quoted one other legal opinion brought to him by Mrs Tighe. There would not be another lawyer in this place who would be prepared to quote just one lawyer and say that that is fact. Legal opinions vary considerably on this issue; that is fact. I am not saying which side is correct. I am saying that legal opinions vary considerably on this issue and that is fact. It shows the difficulty of what this Sex Discrimination Bill is trying to do.

I take at face value Senator Ryan's statement that it was never the intention of the legislation to interfere with the existing situation. I do not believe it was the intention, but it certainly forced the Government into amending various areas. Indeed, this Government has been forced by the Opposition to accept about 80 amendments. The Minister for Education and Youth Affairs and Minister Assisting the Prime Minister on the Status of Women (Senator Ryan) promised me that she would get me the information I sought before the debate finished and I hope she is in the process of doing so. I ask her if she will get me the information I sought relating to clause 3 of this Bill.

This points out a particular difficulty. If, as the Minister said, she has no intentions of interfering with the present situation regarding abortion, why does she not accept the amendments of Senator Harradine? What harm would it do for the Government to accept Senator Harradine's amendments? Indeed, if she believes that there is an area of disputation between lawyers on this issue- Senator Tate has now indicated by a nod of his head that there is-if indeed its intention is honourable and is not to interfere with the abortion situation as it stands, why does the Government not accept the amendments put by Senator Harradine?