Minister ‘misused resources’ in abortion debate
OPEN warfare has erupted in the Berejiklian government over changes to abortion legislation, with senior ministers embroiled in public slanging matches while the Premier is overseas on a trade mission.
Health Minister Brad Hazzard has been accused of misusing his department's resources to lobby for the bill while Police Minister David Elliott has lashed colleague Andrew Constance for "maladministration" by pushing the debate through Parliament.
Mr Elliott has also warned he has received "10 times more" inquiries from constituents over abortion legislation than he did for the controversial greyhound debate.
"(I have) received 376 opinions from constituents ... Of these, 360 have asked me to oppose the Bill whilst 16 have asked me to support the Bill. This is the largest number of constituent enquiries I've had in nearly a decade," he said.
"I was never opposed to transferring abortion laws out of the Criminal Code. What I did object to is the process and subsequent maladministration by the Leader of the House (Constance) in presenting what has already been proven to be poorly written legislation."
Liberal figure Warren Mundine lashed Mr Hazzard for supporting legislation that does not outlaw sex-selective abortions and implored upper house MPs to pass an amendment that would address this.
"Brad Hazzard is saying that no one in Parliament agrees with sex-selective abortions - if no one agrees with it then why turn down the amendment?" he said.
"He's waiting for someone to actually kill a baby because they don't like the sex."
Liberal MP Tanya Davies cited a La Trobe University study that found evidence of male-biased sex ratios - and more than 300 missing girls - in Victoria between 2011 and 2015 after abortion laws there were relaxed.
There is white-hot anger in the Liberal ranks at Mr Hazzard with upper house MP Matthew Mason-Cox saying the bill is "a moral hazard and it's got his name all over it".
Mr Mason-Cox lashed out at Mr Hazzard for claiming he was pushing the bill as a "private member" but he used his department to supply information to support the bill.
One Liberal MP said: "If any other minister used departmental resources to promote a position on a private member's bill they'd be sanctioned for breaching the ministerial code of conduct."
Mr Hazzard said the public "would expect me … to use every level of knowledge and expertise I can muster in making sure the very best legislation comes into the Parliament".
Speaking in London yesterday, Premier Gladys Berejiklian said she would leave any answers about how the bill sanctioned gender-selective abortions to "experts".