NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian has taken a veiled swipe at federal Nationals MP Barnaby Joyce over his involvement in the state’s abortion debate as her deputy said the decriminalisation bill won’t pass this week.
While some had hoped the bill would go to an upper house vote this week, deputy premier John Barilaro says that won’t happen, given the number of foreshadowed amendments.
It means the upper house debate will likely continue into September.
“It’s just the reality that we will not have the time to deal with it in this particular sitting period,” he told reporters on Tuesday.
Some NSW residents have received robocalls from Mr Joyce urging them to oppose the bill to ahead of debate in the state’s upper house on Tuesday.
In the call, Mr Joyce – who holds the federal seat of New England – argues the draft legislation would allow abortions to be performed “for any reason” up to birth.
“Please don’t #robocall me …,” one recipient posted on Twitter. “Your opinion has been weighed, measured, and found wanting.”
Ms Berejiklian on Tuesday took aim at the former deputy prime minister’s involvement.
“The NSW parliament is for NSW parliamentarians to get views from their communities, to look at their own consciences and vote accordingly,” she told reporters in Sydney.
“This is an issue for NSW MPs.”
Ms Berejiklian dismissed criticism from some MPs that the draft legislation has been rushed through.
“I have been in parliament for nearly 17 years and I can’t remember a bill having so much debate in the lower house,” she said.
Hundreds of pro-choice activists rallied in Macquarie Street on Tuesday morning ahead of the upper house debate with anti-abortion supporters to protest in Martin Place and hold a vigil outside parliament in the evening.
Mr Barilaro – who backs the bill – also weighed in on Mr Joyce’s robocall saying he had a right to express his view.
“(But) in the correspondence I’ve received to my office this morning, all of it has actually been from constituents that are upset with the robocall, they’re upset with the message, they think it’s not proper,” he told reporters.
“I would only just say when politicians want to get out there with a message that is so emotional, so personal, be very careful with what messages you leave on people’s phones.”
The private member’s bill to remove abortion from the state’s Crimes Act previously passed the lower house 59 to 31.
It is opposed by several ministers including Dominic Perrottet, Anthony Roberts and David Elliott.
Opponents in the upper house include Christian Democrat Fred Nile, who previously described the bill as “a tyrannical piece of legislation that enforces secular morality on everyone”.
It’s expected Finance Minister Damien Tudehope will move to ban gender-selection abortions while One Nation NSW leader Mark Latham will move to ensure medical professionals aren’t forced to do anything they consider morally wrong.
Shooters, Fishers and Farmers MP Robert Borsak will also move to establish a joint committee inquiry into the bill.