BARNABY Joyce says while he doesn’t condone women being harassed as they enter abortion clinics, he does believe in free speech.
Yesterday, The Leader revealed Mr Joyce was contacting NSW Nationals politicians and urging them to vote against a proposal that would protect women from being harassed as they entered abortion clinics.
“I believe if people are being harassed there is a case for criminal action but I also believe in free speech as well,” Mr Joyce told The Leader.
“Members of parliament are there to have views expressed to them, that is precisely what I’m entitled to do, and in some instances obligated to do, but I didn’t put my private views in a public paper to read, I expressed them privately.
“People know I have a pro-life position. I respect the people who don’t hold those views and I hope they respect mine.”
BARNABY Joyce has been accused of meddling in state politics, by contacting NSW Nationals politicians and urging them to vote against a proposal that would protect women from being harassed as they entered abortion clinics.
The bill, which was put forward by Tamworth-based Nationals MLC Trevor Khan, as already passed through the NSW upper house, and is set to go before the lower house on Thursday.
The Leader spoke to a number of state Nationals politicians who said Mr Joyce had been doing the ring around before he took two weeks of personal leave.
“If he tries to call me, I’ll be giving him the short shrift,” one MP told The Leader.
“I won’t be taking any advice from Barnaby given his recent performances and out bursts.”
Mr Joyce, who is a pro-life supporter, and his partner Vikki Campion recently revealed were pressured to have an abortion by conservative members of the National party.
The New England MP is currently on personal leave. Despite conducting interviews on Tuesday to confirm he would stand at the next election, he did not respond to The Leader’s inquiries.
Mr Khan wouldn’t comment on Mr Joyce’s actions, however he did make it clear the bill was not about abortion, which would have “fractured the party room”.
“This is simply an issue about respect and decency,” Mr Khan said.
“It’s so women can go unharassed, and not be interfered with as they go to these clinics. Often they’re visiting these clinics for reasons other than a termination.”
Mr Khan said the harassment ranged from women being physically blocked from entering clinics by protesters to being handed “quite extreme” material with graphic photographs of fetuses.
“There are posters outside clinics that refer to women as child murders and baby killers,” Mr Khan said.
“Other people try to intimidate women and staff by taking photos of them as they’re going in and out of the clinic.
“This is entirely a state issue and it’s has been a matter in the party room for quite some time.”