Next page . . . . Previous page . . . . Speeches . . . . Contents . . . . Debates(HTML) . . . .

None . . Page.. 805 ..

Mr Wood: No, not strongly.

MR HUMPHRIES: Yes, very strongly, and we will take whatever steps are appropriate to assist in the process of other Australians and, indeed, other citizens of the world bringing to the attention of the French Government the error of that decision and assisting that Government to understand that it goes against the spirit of national and international cooperation and against the spirit of the decisions that ought to be made by rational governments in this day and age to phase out the use of such weapons.

However, I do not think the motion in the form suggested by Ms Follett is a rational response to the problem we find ourselves with today. There are many ways in which we can make a point to the French Government, but I would have thought that scuttling a people-to-people relationship between the citizens of one city and the citizens of another was not one of those ways. Let me remind members that the decision to twin between the ACT and Les Yvelines was not a decision taken by any government. It was essentially a decision taken by people in those two jurisdictions to provide for stronger personal and business links and community links between the two communities. That is what we put at risk by taking this step today. It has taken 10 years to build up to a point where it could recently be reaffirmed by the ACT Government and an envoy sent, so to speak, in the form of Mr Kirby, to France to cement that relationship. That might have been unfortunate timing, given the decision announced the next day by the French Government; but certainly it was the culmination of 10 years of hard work to reaffirm that relationship.

If we had a direct relationship with the French Government through this twinning, I might reconsider that point of view. If I had any expectation that the cancelling of this relationship would impact in any way, even slightly, on the decision of the French Government, I might reconsider my view. But I do not believe that I could seriously suggest to anyone in this place, or anyone outside this place, that our cancelling of our sister city relationship will do anything beyond possibly tomorrow morning's newspaper to bring any kind of force to bear on the French Government, and that is extremely unfortunate. We are sending to the bottom of the sea a relationship that has been worked on for 10 years, which is not between governments but is, essentially, a community-to-community relationship.

Mr Wood: Who signed it?

MR HUMPHRIES: Governments have bought into that arrangement since then.

Mr Wood: I thought she signed it.

MR HUMPHRIES: Yes, the Chief Minister did sign that relationship, as Ms Follett would have done, I understand from what she said before, had circumstances been different - had she been in government and had this decision not been made by the French Government. That is true; but the relationship is not a government-to-government relationship; essentially, it is a community-to-community relationship. It was initiated years ago by some people of Canberra with some people of Versailles-Les Yvelines, and that is the relationship we are talking about destroying in today's motion.

Next page . . . . Previous page . . . . Speeches . . . . Contents . . . . Debates(HTML) . . . .