Territory Stories

Debates Day 4 - Tuesday 21 March 2017



Debates Day 4 - Tuesday 21 March 2017

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Parliamentary Record 4


Debates for 13th Assembly 2016 - 2018; ParliamentNT; Parliamentary Record; 13th Assembly 2016 - 2020




pp 1193 to 1279


Made available by the Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory





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Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory

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Attribution International 4.0 (CC BY 4.0)

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Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory



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DEBATES Tuesday 21 March 2017 1207 members on this side have taken the time to speak with their constituents and hear the views of people across the Territory. I support this legislation. It is long overdue. Mr KIRBY (Port Darwin): Madam Speaker, I support this bill. I thank the Minister for Health for bringing this important matter to the Assembly. This government has recognised on a number of occasions that it would face some extremely challenging decisions over the next few years, but we probably will not face many more challenging than this. I commend the government and everybody in the Chamber for how they have come to make the decision in a proactive and positive way. The consultative and proactive way the minister, the department and the Territory as a whole has embraced this debate shows that, as a society, we are ready to move forward in a progressive and sophisticated way. As a male entering into this debate it has been, at times, confronting. My upbringing and beliefs are that everyone, especially women, have the right to decide their own future. It has been a confronting set of circumstances. I have been in the position, in previous roles, of being able to advocate on behalf of women within trades and male-dominated industries, and I have had immense pleasure in doing so. But it does not give me the right to decide for women. We are put in that position in the House, as elected members and decision makers, and the best I can do is represent those who have asked me to speak on their behalf. I have been fortunate to advocate on behalf of women. I have had the good fortune of working intricately with the Sparkettes, our award-winning Territory electricians. The things those women do in society and to encourage women into electrical trades is fantastic. To be able to orchestrate their inaugural womens conference in the Northern Territory was an honour for meworking and speaking with those women, not deciding their future for them. For the Territory to recently have an apprentice electrician nominated to represent us at the national training awards was a fantastic achievement. To have that apprentice come from humble beginnings in Tennant Creek was an amazing achievement. For the apprentice to be a female Territorian shows that we can be at the forefront of equality in the debates we have in the Territory and this Chamber. Sadly, womens reproductive health is not one of the areas we are leaders in. In the Territory we have great women leaders within sport, the public sector, business and this Chamber. I have engaged with members of the Port Darwin electorate on this bill. I acknowledge there has been a wide range of views. This is an extremely emotive topic. I am grateful for members of the electorate, the public, who have taken the time to share their views and stories with me. Some very personal stories have been shared with me, and I am sure that is the same for everybody in the House. That is not always an easy thing, so I thank and acknowledge those who have taken the time to share their opinions with us. Overwhelmingly the feedback from my electorate has been one of support often mingled with a high degree of surprise that Territory women do not have access to the same healthcare as women interstate. For me, this bill is not just about giving women the right to decide what happens with their own pregnancies. That right was fought for and won by strong women decades ago, who demanded they have the final say in what happens with their bodies. This bill is about ensuring all women around the Territory have adequate access to appropriate, evidence-based reproductive healthcare. It is about a woman and her health professional determining the safest way for that woman to end a pregnancy, if that woman and her health practitioner decide that is the safest and best option for her future. That is where the debate begins and ends for me, with a woman and her health professional. This bill will modernise the reproductive healthcare that Territory women are able to access. It will ensure there are robust protections for women seeking to end a pregnancy. As with all evidence-based healthcare decisions around this, treatment will be based on strong, professional guidelines in line with the health and wellbeing of each woman seeking to terminate a pregnancy. This bill also provides for safe access zones around facilities that provide treatment. We would all hope that that would never be necessary, but it is important to highlight that there have been incidents in other states that are regrettable and have highlighted the necessity for safe zones. I can only imagine that this must be one of the most traumatic decisions that any woman has to make. To be ridiculed or made to feel unsafe, as a woman seeking to legally avail themself of necessary healthcare, is unacceptable in this day and age. I acknowledge that not everyone supports such medical treatments,

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