BATT AND BEN­NETT ON ABOR­TION LAW RE­FORM

Con­science vote a ‘guar­an­tee’

NewsMail - - FRONT PAGE - SARAH STEGER Sarah.Steger@news-mail.com.au

MEM­BER for Bur­nett Stephen Ben­nett is cer­tain abor­tion will be de­crim­i­nalised in Queens­land, af­ter LNP mem­bers moved to give MPs a con­science vote when the govern­ment's Bill is in­tro­duced to Par­lia­ment next week.

At a spe­cial meet­ing on Tues­day af­ter­noon, LNP party mem­bers voted unan­i­mously in sup­port of a free vote in re­la­tion to the Ter­mi­na­tion of Preg­nancy Bill 2018.

The vote aligned with the LNP’s long-stand­ing po­si­tion on mat­ters re­lat­ing to the cre­ation or end­ing of life, which the party typ­i­cally treats as mat­ters of con­science. Mr Ben­nett told the NewsMail while he be­lieved it was in­evitable the MPs were go­ing to get a con­science vote, he did not sup­port the bill or how La­bor achieved the re­sult.

La­belling it an “un­prece­dented, ar­ro­gant step,” the MP said he had never seen an abuse of Par­lia­ment like this one.

“La­bor mem­bers made rec­om­men­da­tions and ap­plied po­lit­i­cal in­flu­ence to other mem­bers of par­lia­ment in rec­om­mend­ing how we vote. This an ab­so­lute breach of stand­ing or­ders,” he said.

“We must not for­get the abuse of power the ma­jor­ity La­bor Govern­ment has ex­er­cised in its stacked com­mit­tee re­port on the leg­is­la­tion.”

Mr Ben­nett said while he be­lieved a free vote guar­an­teed the Bill would be passed, he would vote no.

“There's too many num­bers on the other side,” he said.

Mr Ben­nett said his op­po­si­tion to the Bill stemmed from his elec­torate’s views.

“In re­flec­tion of, par­tic­u­larly my elec­torate’s views and ad­vo­cacy, in good con­science, I can­not sup­port the leg­is­la­tion,” he said.

“While I ac­knowl­edge that this leg­is­la­tion is con­tro­ver­sial and stirs sig­nif­i­cant emo­tion I ask that we con­tinue a dig­ni­fied and re­spect­ful de­bate of each other’s opin­ions.

“I also en­cour­age ev­ery­one with in­ter­est to at least re­view what is be­ing pro­posed and con­sider in your own way what the fu­ture may look like once this Bill is law.”

Also vot­ing against the Bill is Mem­ber for Bund­aberg David Batt.

He said he reached the de­ci­sion af­ter con­sid­er­ing the Bill and lis­ten­ing to his con­stituents.

“I am not of a con­science to sup­port it,” Mr Batt said.

The MP told the NewsMail he would be out­lin­ing the rea­sons be­hind his de­ci­sion to op­pose the Bill when he got the op­por­tu­nity to speak in Par­lia­ment next week.

“I would like to thank all Bund­aberg res­i­dents who have taken the time to con­tact me in re­gards to this deeply emo­tive and com­plex mat­ter,” he said.

‘‘ I ASK THAT WE CON­TINUE A DIG­NI­FIED AND RE­SPECT­FUL DE­BATE OF EACH OTHER’S OPIN­IONS.

MP STEPHEN BEN­NETT

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