Monday, 12 November 2018
Day of the Unborn Child
That the Senate—
(a) acknowledges that:
(i) the internationally-recognised Day of the Unborn Child is observed on 25 March as 'a positive option in favour of life and the spread of a culture for life to guarantee respect for human dignity in every situation',
(ii) religious observers attending Day of the Unborn Child services are continuously disrupted and harassed at annual protest rallies organised by pro-abortion groups, such as the University of Sydney Women's Collective, the University of New South Wales Women's Collective and Labour for Choice,
(iii) these protest rallies feature speakers who insult church-goers and accuse the church of supporting violence against women, and
(iv) then Bishop of Broken Bay, Peter Comensoli, has advocated for exclusion zones around religious activities, stating "if they're (activists) determined to have a safety zone, why not a safety zone around any activities that could be personally intimidating for those involved"; and
(b) calls on all senators to:
(i) protect religious freedom in Australia,
(ii) note the hypocrisy of pro-abortion activists complaining about pro-life group activities near abortion clinics, while, at the same time, carrying out their own protest rallies against religious observances, and
(iii) support calls for pro-abortion activists to be banned from disrupting Day of the Unborn Child services across the nation.
As this motion involves a matter of conscience, in line with longstanding practice government senators are free to vote in accordance with their own conscience on matters relating to this motion.
Senator O'Sullivan needs to get his hands and his rosaries off my ovaries and those of the 10,000 Queensland women who have an abortion every year, 10,000 women who have the right to make a decision about their own bodies without the opinion of Senator O'Sullivan getting in their way.
Senator O'Sullivan has never shared and will never share the experience of any of those women. He will never be faced with running a gauntlet of people calling him a murderer because he's made a decision about his own body. Do not stand there in judgement of women when you will never share their experiences and never understand their choices. A woman's body is her own and no man or anyone else in this building or anywhere else has any right to dictate what she does with it. You should be ashamed of yourself, seeking respect for a group of people trying to further oppress women and control their bodies.
Reference to a person's religious beliefs in speeches in this chamber have been, quite rightly, called out as being inappropriate. I think that the reference to Senator O'Sullivan's religion in relation to the rosary is such a matter that should be, and deserves and needs to be, withdrawn.
Without endorsing Senator Waters's comments, the opposition will not be supporting the motion—but for different reasons. Once again, we are debating a motion which is complex in nature and misplaced in this section of the daily program. The issue that Senator O'Sullivan raises in this motion is, by its nature, a very complex one and one which deserves substantive debate and not a quick vote of the Senate.
This motion is also a poor conflation of the issues of safe access zones and religious freedom and freedom of association in Australia. It's fortunate that the motion now corrects the one factual error contained in the original motion proposed in the chamber weeks ago. Part of this motion refers to the now Archbishop of Melbourne, Peter Comensoli, when he was the Bishop for Broken Bay. The motion still incorrectly refers to an organisation called Labor for Choice. I'm glad to see that Senator O'Sullivan did correct one of these errors, but it's unfortunate— (Time expired)