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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2000 Week 4 Hansard (29 March) . . Page.. 1028..


MR RUGENDYKE (12.28): I support the motion moved by Mr Berry. It is a very important, timely and appropriate motion to support the rebuilding of East Timor. This East Timor issue has been going on for far too long. We recall some 25 or 30 years ago the assassination of Australian journalists in East Timor. We remember the Dili massacre of not so long ago. So it is important to be part of this important rebuilding of East Timor.

Mr Speaker, I might add a few words in relation to the amendments moved by Mr Stefaniak. I think it is important to congratulate and recognise members of the Australian Defence Force and the AFP for their fine efforts in East Timor. We all saw the graphic footage of children being passed over the razor wire into the compound. I might just relay one very moving observation by a police sergeant who was taking babies as they were being passed over the wire.

A terrified woman, typical of the people of East Timor, was intent on passing her baby across the razor wire into the compound. As she was doing so, she caught her breast on the razor wire. You can imagine the pain that would have caused. But her desire to pass the baby over the wire was so great that the pain was irrelevant. The police officer told me that, as she passed the baby over, the razor wire pared her breast away. That is a very damaging and a very sad event in East Timor.

Mr Speaker, there are other observations I could relay, ones just as traumatic and terrible, but I think I have said enough.

MR HIRD (12.31): I rise in support of this motion and also the amendments moved by my colleague Mr Stefaniak, who is best equipped to carry the thoughts of this chamber in respect of this issue. I will be brief because I think that the sentiments of this chamber in respect of this issue have been well expressed already. I support what Mr Stefaniak and other members have said about our police officers and member of the Australian Defence Force who served in East Timor. Aid workers were also involved in East Timor. In my opinion, they are worthy of a great honour. In the way they dedicated themselves as Australians they did us all very proud. I support both the Berry motion and the Stefaniak amendments.

MR BERRY (12.32): I welcome members' support for the motion and the amendments proposed by Mr Stefaniak. Many members have touched on the impact of affairs in East Timor, and I do not need to refer to those again. I would not presume, and neither could any of us presume, to contemplate the needs of the people in East Timor. That will be in the hands of the experts. I would not want to prescribe what sort of aid was given, being so far away from where all those terrible things have occurred.

I say again that I welcome the support of members for this motion. I trust that the Minister will be able to make a positive contribution to aid support for education in particular, notwithstanding the overwhelming need to redevelop infrastructure across East Timor and the urgent needs for health care, housing security and personal safety. If


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