Daily News Roundup

October 18, 2018

Image: ABC News

THURSDAY, OCTOBER 18

Nineteenth-century laws making abortion illegal in Queensland have been scrapped, in one of the state’s biggest legislative reforms.

The ABC reports the Government’s controversial plan to decriminalise pregnancy termination passed through state parliament with a comfortable margin of 50 votes to 41.

The laws mean abortion will be available, on request, at up to 22 weeks’ gestation.

It also allows an abortion to take place after 22 weeks if the medical practitioner performing the termination has consulted with a second medical practitioner and both agreed that “in all the circumstances” the abortion should be performed.

“Safe access zones” of 150 metres will also be established around termination and fertility clinics to prevent protesters approaching and hastling women and their families.

All MPs were given a conscience vote.

One government MP, Jo-Ann Miller, voted against her own party’s proposal and Linus Power abstained from voting altogether.

But the Government was supported by three LNP members — Steve Minnikin, Jann Stuckey and the former opposition leader, Tim Nicholls.

Independent Sandy Bolton and Greens MP Michael Berkman also backed the legislative reform.

Over several days, MPs gave emotional speeches about their position on the issue, with many breaking down in tears.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said the Termination of Pregnancy Act 2018 will ensure women can access services and health professionals can provide these services without fear or stigma.

“It’s taken a century to get to this point,” Ms Palaszczuk said.

“I think [the debate] has been very considered, most of the time. People were able to have their say and they were able to get more information.”

“I do want to commend all members on the way in which they handled themselves during the debate. I think there should be more of it and hopefully we’ve set that standard.”

Tim Nicholls, one of the three LNP MPs who voted in favour of the laws said it wasn’t an easy step to take.

“It goes against obviously the party policy and quite a few other comments and concerns that people had so I didn’t make it lightly,” Mr Nicholls said.

“I made it after a lot of consideration but I think it’s the right decision, and I think it is and will be seen to be a very historic day for the right reasons.

“I accept that people won’t like the decision I’ve made but ultimately that is down to me and my conscience and I set out the steps and the reasons why I made the decision I did.”

Jo Ann Miller was the only Labor MP to vote against the reforms.

“I represent 120 multinational communities in my electorate,” Ms Miller said.

“They are not surprised by my vote at all and in fact I have held these views for many decades.”

Attorney-General Yvette D’Ath said these laws would finally bring Queensland into the 21st century.

“I am so proud, as the Attorney-General of this state, as a woman, as a mother, to witness this significant reform which provides long-needed clarity,” Ms D’Ath said.

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Three men have been arrested over an alleged plot to help women abduct children, portray their fathers as child abusers and then hide the children from authorities,according to reports on ABC news and The Courier Mail .

Australian Federal Police investigators raided properties across Australia, including Dubbo and Grafton in NSW, Townsville in Queensland, and various locations in Perth.

A sailing boat was also searched.

Police said during their two-year investigation, 10 children had been safely returned after being abducted.

Five of them are linked to this particular group, police say.

Police allege a 64-year-old man, arrested in Grafton yesterday, acted as the key financier of the scheme, which aimed to help two women abduct and hide their children, in contravention of family law orders.

A 63-year old man, also arrested in Grafton, allegedly acted as the co-coordinator.

Police claim he sent money to the women and then used social media to portray the children’s fathers as child abusers.

Both men will appear in Grafton Local Court today.

An 83-year old man has also been arrested in Townsville and charged over his alleged involvement.

He is due to appear in Townsville Local Court today.

A prosecution notice has also been served on a 78-year old Perth woman over her alleged involvement in the plot.

AFP Assistant Commissioner Debbie Platz condemned the alleged actions of the group.

“We believe this group has sought assistance from other people — some who may be unaware of their involvement … so we are urging anyone with any knowledge about these activities to come forward to the AFP,” she said.

Police will address the media later today.

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Ian Kiernan, the round the world sailor and environmentalist who founded the Clean Up Australia organisation, has died, aged 78.

Kiernan was diagnosed with cancer in July.

He had fought valiantly and worked to protect his legacy, including by appointing his daughter to the Clean Up Australia board, the organisation said in a statement on Wednesday.

“While we will deeply miss Ian’s guidance and humour, it was his greatest wish that the work he inspired continues,” the statement said.

“Ian Kiernan’s greatest legacy is the creation of an informed, concerned, committed and involved community – sharing his passion for the safeguarding of our most precious asset, our environment.”

Kiernan founded Clean Up Australia 30 years ago as Clean Up Sydney Harbour, and the following year his idea went national before going international in 1993.

He was awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia in 1991, named Australian of the year in 1994, and appointed an Officer of the Order of Australia in 1995.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison paid tribute to his legacy, saying his passion for oceans and coast struck a chord with all Australians.

“The thing I think Ian did more than anything else was just tap us all on the shoulder and say ‘Hey, we’ve got to take care of this, this is our responsibility’,” Mr Morrison told reporters in Canberra on Wednesday.

“For that, Ian, I want to say thank you. I want to say thank you for what you’ve done for our country.

“To his friends and to his family and to his loved ones, we express our deepest sympathies and our condolences.”

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