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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1996 Week 10 Hansard (3 September) . . Page.. 2912 ..


MR HUMPHRIES (Attorney-General) (10.31): Mr Speaker, I move:

That, in view of the recent actions of the French Government in signing the Rarotonga Treaty and the Pelindaba Treaty, this Assembly terminates its requirement of 20 September 1995 for the implementation of an indefinite ban on the Government purchase of products which are manufactured or supplied by French manufacturers or suppliers or are produced in France, whether by French establishments or otherwise, and furthermore resolves that the ban will no longer apply to new contracts or any other contractual arrangements.

It is some months since the Assembly carried a motion to provide for the banning of French products, as far as Government purchasing is concerned. That motion was carried on 20 September last year and the issue was extensively debated in this place at that time. Members will recall that when the motion was put forward there was debate about whether it was going to achieve anything. It was the Government's view at that stage that the motion would make no difference at all to the French Government and would not affect their decision at all but would potentially hurt the ACT. It was the view of the majority of the Assembly at that stage that, nonetheless, the motion should be carried and a point made to the French Government.

Mr Speaker, I am reminded slightly of the Peter Sellers movie called The Mouse That Roared. Indeed, on this occasion, this mouse has roared. Whether we or somebody else has achieved a victory is not clear, but what is clear beyond anything else - - -

Mr Berry: We cut it down.

MR HUMPHRIES: I agree with Mr Berry; I agree that nothing was achieved by this particular proposal. But whether or not that is the case perhaps is not the thing to canvass in today's debate. The important thing is that, whatever we might say about the motion, it has outlived its usefulness. A continuation of this motion can result only in the Territory suffering some damage or loss.

We have a situation where, in some cases, we have to assume they are the cheapest or best products, because they happen to be French - - -

Mr De Domenico: The only ones, sometimes.

MR HUMPHRIES: And in some cases, as Mr De Domenico points out, sometimes the only products that are appropriate are French. Indeed, some exemptions have been granted already, as members will note from the report that was tabled by the Chief Minister a few months ago, to allow us to purchase some goods which were available in the appropriate form only from manufacturers located in France. They included some electricians rubber gauntlets and some electrical-air circuit-breakers, for which there was no suitable alternative.

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