In a speech on Tuesday night, One Nation MP, Mark Latham, joined a growing chorus of opposition voicing their concerns over the poor process applied to the recent NSW abortion bill. Latham joins Liberal MP Natasha Maclaren-Jones, the National Party’s, Barnaby Joyce and Dr David Gillespie, in criticising the rushed bill, deceptively called ‘The Reproductive Health Care Reform Bill’.
The abortion bill passed the lower house (legislative assembly) by 59 to 31 on August 9. The MP responsible for introducing the bill was “Independent” member for Sydney, Alex Greenwich, whose candidacy (for context) was backed by Leftist golden girl, and Lord Mayor of Sydney City, Clover Moore.
Criticism of the nature of the abortion bill has been growing since its surprise introduction to the NSW Parliament. Coinciding with this is criticism of how the bill was introduced, handled and pushed through the assembly, with very little time given for debate, and consultation with the public.
In an apparent response to growing opposition against the bill, including large passionate pro-life, non-violent protests, Andrew Clennell from the Australian said on Wednesday that NSW Premier, Gladys Berejiklian, ‘had backed down on pushing the abortion bill through the states upper house this week.’
Clennell also outlined Mark Latham’s ‘stunning attack on the Premier’.
The One Nation MP, ‘accused Berejiklian of betraying the parliament and the people of NSW, labelling her dictatorial, and claimed she had allowed MPs from all parties to work together on the legislation in an erosion of the two-party system’.
Latham called the alleged clandestine group, ‘a cross-party cabal of left-wing MPs, who had been meeting in secret for months, plotting to hijack the parliament and ram’ the bill through both lower and upper houses.’
Talking with Paul Murray and Rita Panahi, Latham unpacked reasons for his attack on the Premier’s betrayal and lack of leadership, stating:
I’m heavily critical of the process because it’s all wrong and I’m a great believer in good lawmaking that relies on good process…The tragedy of this is that the upper house is wiped of its proper functions as a house of review. We could have had a six-week committee; instead, we got one for five minutes. Proponents of the bill, (who met in secret, didn’t invite comment from the public, and didn’t involve the full range of experts) have denied themselves two very important qualities on a sensitive and divisive issue like this, and that’s credibility and legitimacy. These people look sneaky, these people look dictatorial. They just want to ram it through because they have none of the argument, but some of the numbers; the Premier has facilitated this bad process.
Latham then (rightly) said his protest of the process, is legitimized by how advocates of the bill were now stumbling over whether or not they should support a gender-selection amendment.
Liberal Party MP, Tanya Davies, member for Mulgoa, sparked concern about the contents of the abortion bill when she ‘sought to include an amendment stating that terminations not “be used for gender selection”. Although, Davies’ amendment ‘was rejected because it was [deemed] unnecessary and unworkable,’ the Premier and opposition leader have signalled support for a gender-selection ban.
However, as Michael McGowan of The Guardian said, overall, ‘backers of the bill are unlikely to support one’. (The Guardian)
One of the reasons for this is that the gender-selection amendment is viewed as a right-wing ploy to derail the legitimacy of the bill. This is despite the serious lack of consultation with the public and the inadequate handling of the procedure, which has already destabilized the bill, via the secretive, unprofessional and frantic way it’s being pushed through parliament.
Other notable outspoken critics of both the bill and its contents included Federal Member for Lyne, Dr David Gillespie.
Gillespie went against his state LNP colleague Leslie Williams (a co-sponsor of the abortion bill), saying, ‘the legislation is unnecessary because abortion was “decriminalized in 1971 and it is not a crime if you have a lawful abortion (the rare case when a pregnancy is deemed life-threatening) in NSW”.
As reported by the Wauchope Gazette, ‘Dr Gillespie, who previously worked as the director of physician training at Port Macquarie Base Hospital’, stated:
You are dealing with abortion of a human being that has got a separate circulation and nervous system; all those things make up a human being. A child in the womb is another human being and deserves protection. A child doesn’t miraculously become a human being once it pops out at delivery.
Gillespie also criticized the rushed nature of the bill, saying ‘if the Government wanted to take the community with them they should have at least more than five days to debate it…” Given that ‘a hastily formed enquiry into the bill after community backlash received 13,000 submissions in one day, causing the state parliaments web portal to temporarily crash.’
None of these criticisms are easily dismissed. Gladys Berejiklian’s premiership is slowly reflecting that of William Golding’s character, Ralph in Lord of the Flies. Jack has taken over and the whim of the bureaucratic caste has now become law.
Of course, Gladys Berejiklian, as Premier has the prerogative. Her next move, after delaying the deceptively named, ‘Reproductive Health Care Reform Bill’, should be to stand up and ditch the bill, instead of applauding those all too eager to ditch babies.