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MS HORODNY (11.28): Mr Speaker, 20 years ago, as a student at the ANU, I was involved in protests against nuclear weapons, nuclear testing and wars. I can remember thinking that other issues, including those about ecological disasters, would be dwarfed by nuclear wars and, indeed, even the threat of nuclear wars. I can remember how children right around the planet were growing up with the fear of a nuclear holocaust hanging over their young heads. We had bred a whole new class of depressed and disempowered youth. People began again to build bomb shelters for their families. When the Cold War ended, the next great fear was that smaller nations would initiate nuclear wars and that the Middle East could be the site of those wars. Over time, we have all learnt to live with these threats, as one learns to live with cancer, as we know that the proliferation of weapons, including nuclear weapons, continues all over the world.

Mr Speaker, the debate so far has been very academic. I want to say something about this issue, as a Ukrainian. As a Ukrainian, I have always been very proud of my heritage. As a child, I listened to wonderful stories told to me by my mother about the beautiful country and the rich soils of the Ukrainian Steppes and the reason for the Ukraine being called “the breadbasket of Europe”. I always planned to visit my homeland and my relatives, even though I knew that decades of communism had worn out that country. In 1986, the accident at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant inflicted a devastating blow on this land and has directly affected members of my family in the Ukraine.

Mr Speaker, all wars and all testing are deplorable. By cutting ties with Versailles we are not condemning the citizens of that city. Indeed, knowing that the majority of French citizens do not approve of nuclear testing, we ask the people of Versailles to join people all over the world in condemning the French Government and all governments which support nuclear testing, nuclear wars and all wars. The message is political and not directed at the citizens. We would welcome the Mayor of Versailles coming out against this nuclear testing. This action would surely send a strong message to the French national Government. But it is for us to take the primary step of telling the French national Government that, as well as boycotting French goods in the ACT, we must, sadly, also cut our sister city arrangements.

MR HUMPHRIES (Attorney-General) (11.32): Mr Speaker, let me reiterate for the record that the Liberal Party does not, by any stretch of the imagination, support the decision made by the French Government to resume testing of nuclear weapons in the South Pacific. The points made about the decision to do so in this region rather than in metropolitan France are points well made. The French obviously view the maintenance of what I think they call the force de frappe as some kind of important symbolic gesture within the framework of their foreign policy. It is a decision that may have had some context five or six years ago, during the Cold War, but certainly loses that context now that we have an end to that environment and a progressive decision by countries around the world to prevent the proliferation of nuclear weapons and even, in the case particularly of the former Soviet Union and the United States, to start to phase out those weapons. We have seen significant progress on reducing those sorts of weapons in this world, and that is a quite laudable process that we should of course support.

The decision to provide for this resumption of testing in the southern Pacific is a retrograde step - there is no question about that - and this Government and the Liberal Party strongly condemn the French Government for making that decision.

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