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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 7 Hansard (19 June) . . Page.. 2040..


MR HARGREAVES (continuing):

community were not consulted. Minister, were the Multicultural Council and the general community consulted regarding the decision to paint crucifixes on these posts; if so, how? Don't you agree that these crosses can be offensive to non-Christian groups?

MR SMYTH: First and foremost, on the definition of what is a cross and what is a crucifix: a crucifix usually has the body of the crucified Lord upon it and those who follow the Christian tradition call that a crucifix. A cross which is simply a crossed beam of wood is, I think, a universally recognised symbol of death. It was with that in mind that that symbol was used.

I did think about this issue in considering this proposal and in consulting with the group which put it together, which was the Rotary Club of Mount Gambier and the local police force. They also considered that matter and decided to go with what they thought was also the universal symbol of death in the form of a cross. With that in mind, I decided that we would simply use the one symbol so that there is uniformity round the territory.

MR HARGREAVES: I wish to ask a supplementary question. Minister, you mentioned that you got the idea from Mount Gambier. Will you follow the pure South Australian model, which involves erecting a black post without a cross or any religious symbol?

MR SMYTH: I thought it was more important to make it quite compelling and quite stark. The simple sign of the cross, which I think is recognised across Australia as the symbol of death, is appropriate in this case. The families that I have consulted also seem to think that it is appropriate.

General Agreement on Trade in Services

MS TUCKER: My question is to the Chief Minister. It concerns the General Agreement on Trade in Services, or GATS. The federal government intends to commit Australia to further liberalisation of trade in services through GATS at the forthcoming ministerial meeting of the WTO. Was the ACT government consulted on this position? If so, what is the ACT government's position?

MR HUMPHRIES: I thank Ms Tucker for the question. I know that the federal government's policy at this stage is to consult state and territory governments about agreements that are to be signed by the federal government which will be binding on Australia generally and which might have implications for state and territory governments. I do not believe that during the period I have been Chief Minister there has been a request from the federal government to me on behalf of the ACT government to consider any implications arising out of GATS, but that may have preceded my period as Chief Minister. I will ascertain what the situation is with respect to previous consultation and advise Ms Tucker of that.

MS TUCKER: I ask a supplementary question on notice. If you find in that work that your government has done any analysis of the impact of GATS, could you also bring that to the Assembly.

MR HUMPHRIES: I will take that question on notice as well.


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