Thursday, 9 February 2006
Therapeutic Goods Amendment (Repeal of Ministerial Responsibility for Approval of Ru486) Bill 2005
I am very disappointed at the result on the Therapeutic Goods Amendment (Repeal of Ministerial responsibility for approval of RU486) Bill 2005. It seems to me that the majority of the Senate has said: ‘We’re just not up to the job. We can abrogate our responsibilities. We can flick it across to someone else.’ How many times have I gone to a minister and argued about a decision and he has seen my point of view or our point of view or Nigel Scullion’s point of view and we have been able to change the decision? The elected representatives have had some leverage to change decisions because they are able to go and represent their people directly to a minister.
We flick that out now. We do not have that opportunity. We have said: ‘We’re not good enough. Let’s flick it across to someone else who has some skills.’ It might interest you, Mr Acting Deputy President Marshall, that I have been in this place for 23 years and I have witnessed experts on bananas and on stem cells, and they can make mistakes like anyone else can. We have seen it on many issues. I cannot understand why the Senate said, ‘We just can’t handle this—we’re not good enough.’ As my colleague Senator Barnaby Joyce said the other day: ‘What—do we have to get an electrician to handle the energy ministry, a mechanic to handle some other ministry and a doctor to handle another ministry so we have a team of experts who know everything?’ It does not work that way in elected representative parliaments.
To get back to the issue, why is it that Italy and Canada ban it and the United States has some congressional committee looking into it, but good old Australia goes ahead, totally oblivious to or trying to ignore what everyone else has said—that this is a dangerous way to have an abortion? I am disappointed. I know many of my constituents will be disappointed and I think the elected representation in the Westminster system that we have in Australia has been badly let down today.