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PM's Presser: Abortion, Foreign Elections & Abuse

PM's Presser: Abortion, Foreign Elections & Prison Abuse

Prime Ministers Post Cabinet Press Conference 13 September 2004
By Kevin List

In This Edition:
Judith Collins' Proposed Amendments Regarding Abortion
Elections In The United States And Australia
Travel To Indonesia
Compensation And Prison Abuse


Judith Collins' Proposed Amendments Regarding Abortion

Answers relate to recent statements from National MP Judith Collins calling for a change to legislation which would mean it was mandatory for medical staff to advise parents of their children's desire to have an abortion. Similar territory was canvassed by former National Party Leader, Bill English, earlier this year.

"Firstly the law not requiring an under 16 year old to advise parents has been in place for 27 years. To the best of one's knowledge it hasn't caused problems in 27 years. I'm strongly opposed to what Ms Collins is advocating [See… Judith Collins Statement] for all the reasons which have been set out by medical professionals today. It would be an absolute tragedy if under 16 year olds were seeking backyard abortions because of a requirement for medical professionals to break privacy and tell their parents."

"Now as the Associate Minister of Justice has set out in the vast majority of families these things will be discussed within families, but there are cases where there is incest and abuse and dysfunction where it isn't appropriate. I do not think the law should be changed. I think it would endanger the health and safety of young girls."

"Anything in this area is a conscience vote but my understanding is that people are fully aware that this has been in the law for 27 years. It went into law at the time – the legislation was known as the 'Wall Bill.' It certainly wasn't radical legislation and as I say it is not apparent to me that it has caused problems."

"The issue really in my mind is why it has cropped up in this Bill at all because this Bill rolls over a number of provisions of existing law and Ms Collins is clearly trying to take the opportunity to change a long standing provision of the law."

"I would expect that she [Judith Collins] would not speak for her entire caucus on the matter."


Elections In The United States And Australia

The Prime Minister declined to comment on overseas elections in both the United States and Australia


Travel To Indonesia

Answers relate to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs advice regarding travel to Indonesia following a car bomb exploding outside the Australian Embassy last week.

"I think it was a line call on Friday [the advice given to travellers]. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade advice has talked about the likelihood of terrorist attacks, dangers to western interests. A lot of people would look at that and take their own message or warning from it. But then as the period went on and the Indonesian Government started to speak very publicly about its understanding that another group of terrorists associated with the ones who planted the bomb outside the Australian Embassy were still active, and looking for opportunities for another bomb attack to be made. And when other embassies are starting to alert their nationals not just to the general threat against western style shopping malls and complexes but very specific shopping malls and complexes, then you are entering new territory. It was on that basis that the travel advisory was revised yesterday.

"We are very satisfied with, very happy with, very pleased with the flow of intelligence we get on the matter. And we are in constant liaison with the relevant authorities."


Compensation And Prison Abuse

Yesterday National Party Leader Don Brash called for retrospective legislation that would deny inmates from receiving compensation for prison abuse – or as a National Party press release referred to the unlawful actions of the Department of Corrections treatment of inmates – 'alleged human rights abuses'. More than a week ago, the Minister of Justice, Phil Goff, had referred to the prisoner's claims of abuse as "spurious" on National radio. Given the 'alleged abuse' and the 'spurious claims' were found to have taken place by Justice Ron Young, it may perhaps be logically assumed that this 'alleged abuse' could have been inflicted upon 'alleged criminals' serving sentences for 'spurious convictions'.

Answers below relate to both the prison abuse that was found by Justice Ron Young to have occurred, and to Dr Brash's call for retrospective legislation to stop this sort of thing happening again – i.e. payouts to abused prisoners – not prison abuse itself.

"Mr Goff is saying that he wants legislation to deal with the matter for the future. Dr Brash seems to have just woken up and heard that it was an issue from a week ago. The issue always is should it be retrospective or not. He seems to be raising retrospectivity [as an issue].

"I think you have to be careful with what signals you are sending here. It's not acceptable to have basic agreed rights for the prisoners taken away, and that was the problem in these cases. It seems to me that people would expect the prison system to be held to account.

"The problem comes when that holding to account sees murderers and other violent criminals walking away with money. Most people would say 'yes you have to hold the prison system to account for treating people according to the basic rights they have' that doesn't mean compensation should be paid to criminals. That money would be better going to their victims or the families if the victim is deceased in the case of murderers'."


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