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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 3 Hansard (23 October) . . Page.. 4070..


MRS DUNNE

(continuing):

Italy vs Tonga match. I went to the Italy vs Tonga match, and I did what most sensible Canberrans did: I took into account how long it might take. I was quite surprised because I got to the stadium a lot earlier than I expected. We had planned the time. We turned off Ginninderra Drive into Haydon Drive, and from Haydon Drive to parking our car took us five minutes. Then we walked in and bought our beer and the hot, fat footy snacks and we were there with plenty of time to take in the colour and movement of the Italian cheer squad, with their whistles and clappers in front of us.

I am surprised that Mr Stanhope could not do what most Canberrans do and leave home early. He lives in Kaleen. When most Kaleen residents I know want to go to the football, they walk across the road and do not have to worry about the traffic. I was surprised that the Chief Minister would make a fuss about such a thing in a fortnight of festivities and celebrations around the World Cup and that we would have this jarring note from the leader of the ACT community. I am sure it sends a message to the Italians, Tongans, Welsh and all the other supporters in town what a whingeing mob Australians can be. I think that is a very sour note.

Canberra-Baghdad sister city relationship

MR PRATT

(6.15): I rise to take up the ridiculous issue put forward by the Chief Minister during question time today: the Baghdad sister city relationship. On this side of the house we believe that is a political stunt and that the sister city relationship issue is an unnecessary diversion from the fundamentally important issue of ACT multiculturalism.

We believe we have to focus our energies and resources regarding the sister city relationship program on bedding in our Beijing relationship and, as the next priority, moving to establish one with Dili, which is in our own backyard. As Mrs Cross rightly pointed out, we have a long, historical and rather emotional connection with Timor. Whatever little this city can do to add to the Australian foreign assistance to Timor, it should do it.

The Baghdad stunt diverts from that. Mr Stanhope's premise of pulling our heartstrings to justify a Baghdad adventure is fundamentally flawed. It is also misrepresentative and mischievous. I grant that, emotionally, he cares for Baghdad and the cause, but I still think that his fundamental concern is to get stuck into Mr Howard. In the process, does he realise that he is humiliating our country?

When a Chief Minister gets up and says the things ours has said, he is stepping down to a particular level. To accuse our country of undertaking a dishonest intervention in Iraq is part of this whole stunt process. The Chief Minister claims that the damage in Baghdad resulted largely from the war. That is mischievous and misrepresentative. Most of the damage in Iraq developed over about 14 years, during UN sanctions and during a time when Saddam spent all the money he ever got on weapons-not only weapons of mass destruction but also conventional weapons-at the expense of infrastructure. To say that the whole place collapsed as a result of Western intervention is absolutely fallacious.

Mr Stanhope failed, in his criticism of Australia's intervention, to mention that, as a result of the Western coalition intervention, the minimum 4,000 Iraqi deaths per month, which was part of a 25-year program, have now abated. I stress that that is the minimum number. There are UN experts who say that 69,000 Iraqis died every year over the last


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