The Speaker of the Tasmanian Parliament, Sue Hickey, has sided with her Liberal colleagues to pass a Government-amended Opposition motion on the emotion-charged issue of abortion.
Labor had moved the motion to provide terminations in the state’s public hospitals by July 1, but Health Minister Michael Ferguson introduced his own amendment during the 90-minute debate.
The crucial vote by Ms Hickey was seen as a first critical test of her Liberal Party loyalties in the wake of her claiming the speakership role over party choice, Rene Hidding.
Ms Hickey had made no secret of her intention not to tow the party line, leaving many wondering which way she may have chosen to vote in the abortion debate and casting doubt over the Government’s wafer-thin majority.
But in the end she sided with her party on the issue, to defeat the original Labor motion which had been backed by the Greens, in a 12-11 vote.
Before the vote, about 40 anti-abortion protesters gathered on Parliament lawns in Hobart.
The Australian Christian Lobby organised the prayer vigil to coincide with the vote.
One of the protestors, Naomi Spinks, said the government needed to canvas public opinion.
“I think that the Government should be supporting and encouraging adoption services as well as pregnancy help services for women that might feel like carrying the child is a strain on her,” she said.