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

Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1995 Week 10 Hansard (6 December) . . Page.. 2705 ..

MR HUMPHRIES (continuing):

China, for example, which is a major trading partner of Australia, has systematically, for the last half-century, used state-organised terror to keep its citizens under control. It regularly executes people. It regularly sends people to labour camps for no worse crime than that they are dissidents against the regime. We know that at the present time there are still people in Chinese gaols for the crime of having protested in Tiananmen Square six years ago for the right to express free choice and political opinions in that country.

Mr Berry: You are not going to be able to stay here until half past five in the morning, Gary. Now cut it out.

MR HUMPHRIES: Mr Berry might not care about what happens to people in Chinese gaols. Mr Berry might not care about these sorts of issues, but I think they are quite important. I say to him that it is no laughing matter. It is all right to take action against Shell because it trades with Nigeria or works in Nigeria. There are other major Australian companies that have major stakes in countries in our region which deserve to be condemned, if this is the test we apply. BHP has been severely criticised for its role in Papua New Guinea. Papua New Guinea is right on our doorstep.

I am not sure whether those opposite are saying, "We want to be consistent and criticise them all collectively, or we want to take them one at a time", or what they want to do. I think we will pretty quickly get to the stage where we will find ourselves freezing out all sorts of companies and organisations in this Territory, purely for the reason that they are involved allegedly in some conspiracy to inflict harm on people overseas. I think it is dangerous and it is unsafe. We are already boycotting French companies. We are now apparently going to boycott Shell. If we accept this principle, the Government would also like to look for action in some other cases of people dealing with other countries that we think are pretty unsavoury in their activities. I would urge the Assembly not to set this standard in the first place, and I would say that we should be arguing that this is not the way to be dealing with this matter. As I said, we will support the other five paragraphs of this motion, as amended.

MRS CARNELL (Chief Minister) (11.55): Mr Speaker, I would like to table for the interest of the Assembly - whether this is good information or not is another thing - a briefing note from Shell on the Nigerian situation.

Mr Connolly: I think every member had that sent to them.

MRS CARNELL: Yes, great. I think everybody in this house deplores the action of the Nigerian Government, but it is very difficult to determine whether what is in that briefing note is right or what we have read in the newspapers is right. It is interesting that the Australian national Government at this stage have not made a decision on which side of the story they believe is appropriate and are currently keeping their options open on their actions with regard to Shell as a player in this whole affair. From that perspective,

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