Thursday, February 16, 2006

LETTER: RU486, ministerial accountability and democracy

It is encouraging that the RU-486 private members bill passed through the House of Representatives, putting the decision on the availability of the drug in the capable hands of the TGA.

However, after all the debates and impassioned speeches, there was final vote taken on the Bill was not counted, so we don’t know how our MPs have voted, which is a convenient abrogation of democratic accountability to the electorate.

As Minister Abbott and Prime Minister John Howard have been calling this a 'vote of no confidence' in Abbot as Health minister, will he now resign?

And will Danna Vale’s extremist views on Muslims go unchecked? She and Tony Abbot provided perfect examples of why the decision to approve RU-486 should NOT be in the hands of parliamentarians.

This bill was a victory for women and democracy. Without the overwhelming support of women parliamentarians it would not have passed. It is quite clear that we need more women in parliament, and that conscience votes improve democratic process.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Logging breaches are unnacceptable - the Bracks government should act

It is simply unacceptable that the Bracks’ government has taken no action when recent Environment Protection Agency audits found serious logging breaches where protected trees in National Parks were felled and endangered species where threatened (Age 9/2).

I was recently fined for traveling on the train with an unvalidated ticket, despite attempting to validate it and clearly communicating this to the Minister for Transport and the Premier. Why is zero tolerance and the full weight of the law exercised against so-called fare evaders on public transport, yet loggers who clearly break the law go unpunished?

It is apparent that the mismanagement of our forests extends past clear felling of our old growth forests for low value export woodchips to a lack of compliance with the law.

Acting Environment Minister Candy Broad should take immediate steps to ensure prosecutions rather than make excuses for Government inaction and a logging industry that is out of control and destroying our old growth forests.

Friday, February 03, 2006

RU486, the conscience vote and the seperation of powers

Australia's federal MPs should exercise their conscience votes in favour of the use and availability of RU486.

RU486 is safe and effective. The World Health Organisation and the AMA advocate for the availability of RU486, because it is arguably safer than the already safe surgical abortion procedure (both at the acceptable level of approximately 1 death per one hundred thousand). International consensus is that RU486 is also the most effective method of abortion for gestation at less than 7 weeks.

RU486 will not lead to increased abortions. A woman’s decision to have an abortion, whether surgically or by medication, is never taken lightly. There is no evidence to suggest that the introduction of RU486 would increase the likelihood of a woman terminating a pregnancy.

Access to RU486 should be a medical decision, not a political one. A politician who has no medical expertise should not determine a woman’s access to RU486. Instead, access to abortion medications should be determined by health professionals at the Therapeutic Goods Administration. The public interest is not served by having this important decision held solely in the hands of one man such as Tony Abbott, who is not respecting the separation of powers doctrine between his parliamentary role in forming legislation (in Government) and his executive role (as Minister) in charge of the Health portfolio.