May 1st 2010

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Articles from this issue:

WATER: Government's misspent billions will destroy our farms

CANBERRA OBSERVED: Rudd gambles all on hospital reform

VICTORIA: "Big brother" laws could curb religious freedom

QUARANTINE: WTO apple ruling threatens Australian industries

ECONOMIC AFFAIRS: Privatisation has failed to deliver cheaper electricity

EDITORIAL: Can terrorists really acquire nuclear weapons?

POLAND: Aircraft crash annihilates Polish leadership

CLIMATE SCIENCE: Earth is never in equilibrium

ENVIRONMENT: 'Ship on the Reef': a critical review of this season's rerun

SCHOOLS: Dumbed-down Australian history curriculum

GENDER AND IDENTITY: Help for homosexuals who want change

CULTURE: Is the porn tide finally turning?

TRADE UNIONISM: Why America doesn't have a labour party

Perspective needed on Tony Abbott (letter)

Gratitude for public health system (letter)

AS THE WORLD TURNS: China's shameful massacre of unborn girls; Soft power and no plan for Iran; Countering terror; Scientific establishment forfeits public trust

BOOK REVIEW: WILLIAM CHARLES WENTWORTH: Australia's Greatest Native Son, by Andrew Tink

BOOK REVIEW: NOTHING TO ENVY: Love, Life and Death in North Korea, by Barbara Demick

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Perspective needed on Tony Abbott (letter)

by Carolyn Mongan

News Weekly, May 1, 2010

I was concerned when I read the following extract from your article, "What is Tony Abbott on about?" (Canberra Observed, News Weekly, April 17). It read: "During a recent Channel Nine 60 Minutes profile, Mr Abbott was asked for his views on abortion - as if they were already not well known.

"In earlier interviews Mr Abbott had used the clever line that his private view was not too dissimilar to those held by Kevin Rudd or New South Wales Premier Kristina Keneally, who both have described themselves as pro-life. But instead he offered up the wish-washy Bill Clinton line on abortion - that he hoped it would be 'safe, legal but rare'."

All Mr Abbott needed to say was that abortion law was a matter for state legislators and was not an issue for the Commonwealth Parliament.

What is striking, however, is that Tony Abbott is taken to task for any statement he makes on abortion while others, like Kevin Rudd and Kristina Keneally, are not held to account.

I was particularly dismayed that the Canberra Observed article relied on self-description by both Rudd and Keneally, yet took Abbott to task for recent statements. The reason I was dismayed was because Rudd and Keneally have contradicted their self-proclaimed pro-life beliefs.

In the case of Prime Minister Rudd, one of his Government's first "achievements" was to provide foreign aid for abortion among South Pacific nations. Let us not forget that he also voted for the Therapeutic Goods Amendment Bill 2005 (RU486), which resulted in the proliferation of licences for use of RU486 as an abortifacient.

As for Premier Keneally, in an interview she did with ABC Radio's Monica Attard, she said: "... When it comes to issues like abortion, I recognise it's very difficult to have a very black and white position on this. I would say that my position on abortion probably most closely resembles that of the former president Bill Clinton which was that abortion should be safe, it should be available...". Monica Attard added, "And rare." To which Mrs Keneally replied: "And it should be rare." (ABC Radio, December 11, 2009).

Above all, Mr Abbott's voting record should be remembered. He voted against the Therapeutic Goods Amendment Bill 2005; he also voted against cloning and research on human embryos contained in the Prohibition of Human Cloning for Reproduction and the Regulation of Human Embryo Research Amendment Bill 2006.

During an appearance on ABC television's Q & A program (October 29, 2009) the following exchange took place. Tony Jones asked Mr Abbott: "Tony, given what you're saying, would you accept or would you actually approve of decriminalisation of abortion in Queensland and New South Wales?" Mr Abbott replied: "Well, I think the law is a moral teacher ... and I think if you want fewer abortions it is best not to send any signals that more is OK."

Abbott's answer is philosophically well founded and does him credit as it was delivered during a particularly hostile attack from Catherine Deveny.

News Weekly's "knee-jerk" reaction to Tony Abbott's "Clinton" reference was superficial, scant on research and analysis and way out of perspective.

Carolyn Mongan,
Campbell, ACT

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