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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1995 Week 04 Hansard (Tuesday, 20 June 1995) . . Page.. 790 ..


Since the time of self-government, there have been intermittent calls for formal government recognition of the twinning between Canberra and Les Yvelines. At the same time, when we were in government, there were requests from a number of cities around the world for twinning agreements with Canberra. For that reason, as a government, we drew up a series of guidelines which we felt ought to be applied to any request for twinning by Canberra with another city. In all honesty, Mr Speaker, I have to say that I did have it in mind to recommend to my then Government colleagues that we proceed to formalise the twinning arrangement between Les Yvelines and Canberra. That was shortly before the last election. I did not condemn Mrs Carnell's Government’s actions in doing this not so very long ago. It was, after all, about a decade since the bombing of the Rainbow Warrior, and I felt that we ought to proceed, given the community involvement that had been evident over all of those years.

However, Mr Speaker, the situation changed radically on 13 June, with the announcement by the President of France, Mr Chirac, of his decision to resume nuclear testing in the Pacific from September this year until May 1996. My Labor colleagues and I believe that this decision is irresponsible on environmental and humanitarian grounds. The decision shows an utter disregard for the wishes and the wellbeing of the peoples of the Pacific region. Perhaps the most alarming implication of the French Government's decision to resume testing is the threat to world peace and harmony, particularly for the Pacific region. Members will recall that only last month the international community decided, in the interests of global harmony, to extend indefinitely the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons. The ultimate objective of this treaty was the conclusion of a comprehensive test ban treaty by no later than 1996. The decision of the French Government to resume testing flies in the face of this agreed progress towards a safer world. We can only hope that other nuclear states will not follow the lamentable French example and also resume development and testing of nuclear weapons. It was with a great deal of alarm that I heard this morning media reports of the possibility of the United States of America also resuming testing. The small island states which comprise the South Pacific region have repeatedly made known their opposition to nuclear testing, most recently by the creation of the South Pacific nuclear-free zone.

Mr Speaker, one of the arguments that are being run on this matter is that you cannot hold the French people responsible for the actions of their Government. This argument, to me, is a denial of the notion of representative and democratic government. The Government of France was elected by the people of France, just as the Government of the ACT was elected by our own community. Unless you are suggesting that the French people were somehow duped or that their electoral system was somehow rorted, then you must indeed hold the French people responsible for their Government. It is essential, in my view, that the actions of the ACT Government reflect our own community's outrage at the French Government's decision. Our action must go beyond the mere writing of a letter, which I understand has been Mrs Carnell's only response so far. I believe that the Government must provide some leadership to the community on this issue. So far, that leadership has been sadly lacking. Mr Speaker, formal relations between the ACT and France are extremely limited. It is my view that the twinning agreement is the best vehicle for this Territory to express its utter condemnation of the French Government's decision. It is appropriate because it not only involves the Government and the Assembly but also provides a peaceful and legitimate means of protest for the Canberra community to express their abhorrence of this decision.


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