Suspension of Standing Orders

I support the procedural motion that has been advanced by Senator O'Sullivan today. This house is charged with being courageous on the issues that matter. We're not supposed to shy away from things because they might be a little bit controversial or uncomfortable or because they might make our colleagues in other states have a slightly more difficult week. We need to be willing to confront the issues as they arise.

We've heard today an explanation from those in the Labor Party of why formality is opposed here, but I can tell you that this is not about some deep-seated belief in the purposes of using notices of motion in this chamber. If that were so, we'd have a different response to more than half the motions that come to this place. But that's not what happens, because, when it suits the members of this chamber, we are more than happy to confront things that might be controversial. We can't be shutting down the freedom to speak about matters when the topic no longer feels a comfortable one. What it is, in truth, is a repugnant attempt to stifle the clarifying power of the scrutiny of policy in this place, an attempt to shut down the freedom to speak on a bill that the Queensland parliament hopes will slip into law without being exposed for the brutality that it is. And I don't use the word 'brutality' lightly.

Many people might have differing opinions about abortion in the early stages, but this is about ending the lives of children beyond the age at which we are, for other people, investing a fortune to save premature children. How can we be investing the entire weight of the medical profession's expertise and of public expense in saving premature children in some circumstances while we simultaneously kill healthy children born in other circumstances? It's wrong, and we should be able to debate it on the floor of this chamber for what it is. The idea that a healthy, viable child could be killed by its own parents simply because it happens to be a girl or happens to be a boy when the other sex would have been preferred is a sad indictment on who we are as a society, and we need to be willing to have the conversations needed to say, 'We can do better.'

The bill also seeks to put in place exclusion zones that would shut down freedom of speech in a way that we should all be very concerned about, and it plans to unduly and unfairly confine the rights of doctors to live out their beliefs. Doctors who conscientiously object will be forced in many circumstances—defined broadly as emergencies, but I can tell you that that seems to be a very loosely used term—to participate in a process that would actively kill a child that could otherwise survive on its own. This is not a small thing, and we should not be running away from the opportunity to confront the reality of what is a barbaric bill. I commend the procedural motion.