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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1995 Week 4 Hansard (20 June) . . Page.. 791..


MS FOLLETT (continuing):

Another argument that you often hear is: If the French Government believes that the nuclear tests are safe, why then is it not conducting them in or near mainland France? I believe that this argument, unlike the previous one, does hold water. The Government of France, it seems to me, knows full well that the French people would not tolerate these tests in their own backyard. Indeed, many French people do not condone the tests in the Pacific either, and that is especially the case for French people living in Australia. Also, the consequences of a mishap or an accident with the tests could be devastating. As we know from the experience of Chernobyl, amongst other experiences, accidents do indeed happen. I suspect that no amount of persuasion by the French Government about the safety of these tests would convince the people of mainland France that it would be all right for them to proceed there. Similarly, I do not believe that the people of the South Pacific will ever be convinced that there is no danger to them or to their environment from these tests.

In conclusion, Mr Speaker, I believe that it is up to this Assembly and this Government to provide some leadership to the community to provide a formal, legal and peaceful means of protest which does reflect the nature of our relationship with the French people, and that is that we have a twin city arrangement with the region of Les Yvelines and Versailles. I believe that the motion which I have moved accurately reflects the very strong sentiment being expressed in our community, the very strong abhorrence of this decision by the French Government, and the very strong support for the smaller nations of the South Pacific, who, of course, will be making their own protest. I consider that this motion is the best possible outcome in a woeful situation which has been brought upon us by the French Government. Far from saying that the French people themselves cannot be held responsible, I would say that there is no other means of conveying to the French people the sentiment that is being expressed so eloquently in our own community. This is a people-to-people twinning arrangement, and our protest over this French decision should also be a people-to-people protest in a peaceful and legitimate way. Mr Speaker, I commend the motion to the Assembly.

MRS CARNELL (Chief Minister) (10.41): Certainly, the Government agrees with part of the motion moved by Ms Follett this morning; that is, that this Government totally abhors the decision made by the French Government to recommence tests on Mururoa Atoll. I do not believe that there is one person in Canberra who thinks that that is an appropriate decision, Mr Speaker. As the Leader of the Opposition said, if a government decides to test - as much as I would totally oppose that - they should do it closer to home, on their own territory. There is no doubt about that. But the issue of the twinning of Canberra with Versailles-Les Yvelines has a long history, on a people-to-people basis. It was initiated in 1985, in the precursor to this Assembly - the old House of Assembly. Despite the withdrawal of Federal Government support after the Rainbow Warrior incident, the Assembly resolved in 1985 to proceed with twinning on a people-to-people basis. That people-to-people basis has continued over that whole 10-year period.


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