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Wednesday, 17 November 1993
Page: 2991


Senator REYNOLDS (11.27 a.m.) —I welcome the opportunity to contribute to this very short debate. I am rather frustrated by the decision to bring it on for just half an hour. I agree with many of the concerns that have been raised in the chamber this morning. I know that on some of the issues that Senator Coulter has raised we would share our views.

  Equally—and this is interesting—while I have total disagreement with Senator Harradine on many aspects of the population debate, I certainly agree that the debate should not be about population control; the debate should be focused quite clearly on women's reproductive rights. I think it is interesting that in this debate about population there are far too many men in power making decisions. I would even go so far as to say that that applies in Australia.

  I did not agree with the decision to suspend the element of the overseas aid program in relation to the small component of family planning assistance. Even though the minister has assured us that the inquiry can, we hope, expand our understanding of the population and development issues, and in fact lead to a more effective program, I think it sends the wrong signals around the world. It sends the signal that it is men who are still in control of women's bodies instead of women having the right to choose and women deciding on whether or not they wish to have another child.

  A recent African survey showed that, by and large, women would have chosen not to have the last child—be that child the seventh, the eighth, the ninth or the 10th—if they had had access to the knowledge and the method to prevent that pregnancy. I welcome the debate. I do not think today is the day to have it, but I welcome the opportunity it provides.

  Question put:

  That the motion (Senator Coulter's) be agreed to.