National

Abortion debate moves to NSW upper house

By AAP Newswire

The chair of an inquiry into a NSW bill decriminalising abortion has dismissed concerns about the time given for examining the proposed laws, saying the issue has been debated since the 1960s.

The private member's bill to remove abortion from the state's Crimes Act, which passed the lower house 59 to 31, has been considered by an upper house committee ahead of this week's expected debate.

Christian organisation FamilyVoice Australia on Monday said the short time allowed for the committee inquiry had disenfranchised thousands of people, and the overall management of the bill lacked due process and procedural fairness.

Some MPs have also written to the premier seeking more time for the committee process, but chair Shayne Mallard said it has completed the work and received a broad range of submissions.

"My personal view is that if we had six months we'd still have the same information. I can't see how anything would have changed," he told AAP on Monday.

"This issue's been debated since the 1960s and so my personal view is that you could have a six-month inquiry or six-day inquiry, everyone was ready to push print and send in their submissions."

Mr Mallard expected the committee's report would be tabled in parliament on Tuesday as initially planned, despite the inquiry receiving about 14,000 submissions.

The Liberal MP had personally received 10,783 emails regarding the bill, and counting, as of Monday afternoon.

"Every member of parliament, it's the same situation," he said.

Labor MP Penny Sharpe, a co-sponsor of the bill, said she remained cautiously optimistic it would be passed despite some vigorous opposition.

"I know the Legislative Council, I've been here for too long, never say never about these things," she said.

"But I feel like MPs know how they're going to vote and I'm very hopeful that they'll vote to support this very sensible and long-overdue bill."

Premier Gladys Berejiklian has received some criticism over her handling of the draft legislation, which is opposed by several frontbench MPs including Dominic Perrottet, Anthony Roberts and David Elliott.

The premier, fresh from an overseas trade visit on Monday, said conscience votes gave colleagues latitude and she had no issue with them expressing their views.

"My only restriction is please be respectful of other people's views and that's the expectation that I have," she told reporters.

Mr Mallard - who, like Ms Berejiklian, supports the bill - said the issue had been around a long time and he didn't agree with criticism of the premier.

"This (the bill) is not an ambush, it's not a surprise and putting it at the feet of the premier's not fair," he said.

Opponents of the proposed laws 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".