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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1995 Week 11 Hansard (12 December) . . Page.. 2893 ..

Mr De Domenico: You could have fixed it by inviting the then Leader of the Opposition to join you.

Mr Humphries: Yes, that is right.

Mr Berry: So you could have been bought off?

Mr Humphries: It was about bipartisanship.

MS FOLLETT: If you just want to have a chat across the room, I will wait. Mr Speaker, there is no doubt whatsoever in my mind that the Liberals, when they were in opposition, took the fullest and most crass political advantage of the delegation to Japan which I led. Now, in a belated attempt at rationalisation, they have asserted that it was related to the cost of the delegation. That, of course, is not true. Mr Speaker, we know from the Liberals' own words what their objections were. Let me list them for you. As Mr Humphries has just reiterated, had I taken them with me, they would have shut up. I am not in the business of buying people off. The Liberals might be, but I am not. I was not then and I am still not. I think that demonstrates the kind of venal attitudes of those opposite. Had I taken them with me, they would not have criticised me. You know what you can do with that idea.

Another objection we heard from Mr Humphries was that Japan had yet to apologise for the Second World War. We heard that little gem come from him. We heard from Mrs Carnell that we really did not want to do this because the Japanese were still whaling. I happen to think that the Japanese should stop whaling. We heard all those criticisms trotted out. Mr De Domenico, at least with some honesty, admitted that they were not in favour of the twinning arrangement with Nara. At least, he admitted it. In fact, he did that in a public place.

Mr Humphries: Rubbish! You are making all this up, Rosemary.

MS FOLLETT: No, I am not. Mr Speaker, I believe that those opposite have a great deal to do when it comes to proving their credentials in regard to this relationship. The fact of the matter is they were remorseless in pursuing every petty political point that they could at the time that the whole idea got off the ground. Of course, they recently changed their tune, only when they realised that there was something in it for them.

Mr Speaker, I believe that the relationship between Canberra and Nara is a very good and potentially very productive one, but the major reason why I have pursued it in the past and will do so again in the future is the potential that these kinds of arrangements have for cultural exchange, for friendship and therefore for world peace. I believe that, had it been merely a matter of pursuing respective business interests, that could have been done without government help and probably should have been done without government help. I believe that there are enough businesses around with the capacity to enter a market like Japan, make their own assessments, pursue their own opportunities and so on. These kinds of arrangements are entered into and/or sanctioned by government for a much broader purpose and, I think, a much more important purpose. For that reason, I was very pleased indeed to be involved at the outset with this relationship with Nara.

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