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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2004 Week 2 Hansard (3 March) . . Page.. 705..


MR PRATT (continuing):

There is a romantic myth surrounding David Hicks, and the Chief Minister's obsession with this fellow is certainly of some concern. I want to make two quick points. Firstly, let us remember that David Hicks quite freely made his choices and must take responsibility for those choices and the actions that he took. He exercised his rights and he did what he had to do. Who is David Hicks and whom did David Hicks join and train with? Does the Chief Minister know? If he is going to put David Hicks up there on a pedestal, does he know much about him and his background? Has the Chief Minister heard of the Afghan Mujahadeen fundamentalist element of the Kosovo Liberation Army, the KLA? This was a small element of no more than 1,000 fighters, who were disowned by the greater democratic majority of the Kosovo Liberation Army. They were disowned because of their murderous ways. They in fact killed democratic moderate Muslim Kosovars as well as Serbian civilians. That is who David joined in 1998; that is who he trained with. Then he returned with that group to Afghanistan with the Taliban. My Care Australia staff in Kosovo knew of these people and they knew exactly who these people were.

The second point I would like to make is: has the Chief Minister heard of Peter Bunch and Diana Thomas? I doubt it, because as far as I am aware he has not spoken of them. If he has spoken of them, it has been to nowhere near the same degree as he has continually spoken about David Hicks. Bunch and Thomas were taken captive by the Taliban in 2002-ironically in the same year as David Hicks was in Afghanistan operating with the Taliban. Bunch and Thomas were nearly killed in 2002. I met them when they came back to Australia. They are honourable and brave people and they did not do anything wrong. But we do not see them being put up on a pedestal as heroes, as role models. Instead, we see David Hicks being put up there as a vehicle to be used.

I would like to see the Chief Minister exercise some balance in the causes that he decides to select for whatever reasons. He is our Chief Minister. Taking off our political hats for a moment, we respect that office, we want to see the Chief Minister firing on all cylinders and we expect him to exercise leadership and balance in the way that he governs this place-not to be driving wedges. He certainly needs to be careful what causes he picks to make the points that he wants to make.

Public housing

MR STEFANIAK (6.33): I rise to discuss some very worrying trends I am observing in relation to some housing trust tenants and some of the problems experienced in neighbourhoods where tenants are very, very antisocial. It is a real problem, and it is also something that I have noticed seems to be increasing. I can recall probably five, six or seven years ago that there were occasional problems, which often could be resolved by perhaps moving one tenant. Sometimes the issue would resolve itself because one particular tenant who was difficult simply would not pay rent, so they would be evicted and the problem would go away.

But I have been contacted very, very frequently-far too frequently-lately by a number of very concerned constituents in relation to some incredibly difficult tenants. I refer to ongoing problems in Worrell Place in Florey. The minister will be well aware of the problem house there. I am not sure how many people are meant to live there, but I am told by the neighbours over the road at the old people's units that a large number of persons still either visit or reside there. I saw an old couple only a couple of days ago,


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