Hickey sticks with Tas Libs on abortion
Tasmania's maverick Speaker Sue Hickey has stuck with her Liberal government colleagues during a contentious vote over public abortion services in the state.
The state's Labor opposition on Wednesday moved a motion calling on the government to provide access to public-system abortions by July 1.
It loomed as the first major test for the loyalty of Ms Hickey, who last month blindsided her own party by voting with Labor and the Greens to make herself Speaker.
She previously promised confidence in the government but also said she plans to consider bills on their merits.
Health Minister Michael Ferguson introduced an amendment to Labor's motion, which was debated for about an hour an a half.
Labor had called on Mr Ferguson to provide abortion services in the public system under all circumstances.
But he replaced it with a clause calling on the government to provide advice from health department on abortions services by July 3.
Ms Hickey had the casting vote in the lower house, which finished 12-11 in favour of the government.
Abortion was a key issue in the lead-up to the March election, after Tasmania's only dedicated surgical abortion clinic in Hobart closed late last year.
The Liberals have ruled out funding surgical abortions through the state's health system and have offered assistance for women to travel to the mainland for the procedure.
Opposition Leader Rebecca White told parliament on Tuesday as many as ten women a week are flying to Melbourne for abortions.
Labor MP Michelle O'Byrne, who brought forward the motion, accused Mr Ferguson of passing on responsibility to the health department.
"The minister's contribution was highly political and highly judgmental," she said.
"There is no choice. This is a legal health procedure that when every woman and her doctor give consent to occur, should occur."
Greens leader Cassy O'Connor compared Tasmania's situation to the TV series The Handmaid's Tale.
"(There) is a strong desire and practice to control women's bodies," she told parliament.
A group of anti-abortion protesters gathered on the lawns of Hobart's parliament house in the lead-up to the vote.
Ms Hickey later sided with party colleagues to quash a Greens proposal to put a pause on Hobart homes being listed on short-stay accommodation websites, including Airbnb, as the city battles a housing shortage.
The Liberals were re-elected in March with 13 House of Assembly seats, to Labor's 10 and the Greens' two.
© AAP 2018