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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 2 Hansard (19 May) . . Page.. 306 ..

MR MOORE (continuing):

condemning nuclear testing is the critical factor. The particular form that the motion takes, provided that condemnation is clear, does not worry me at all. I believe that what we should do now is look very carefully at the amendment, see whether we can all wear it, and get to a unanimous position. It seems to me, Mr Speaker, that there is no doubt that the world reaction that brought pressure on the French - this is about 21/2 years ago, or three years ago - was effective. We have to continue that and make sure that pressure is brought to bear on India, although in some ways it is a different issue in the sense that the nuclear tests were conducted within their own boundaries, as opposed to being conducted elsewhere in the world. Even so, it is a matter of such serious concern that we ought to ensure a unanimous condemnation comes from this Assembly.

Amendment agreed to.

MR STANHOPE (Leader of the Opposition) (11.25): Mr Speaker, the Opposition supports this motion but actually believes that it could be enhanced. The Labor Party strongly condemns the tests by India, as the Labor Party has consistently condemned nuclear tests. The Labor Party has taken a leading role in moves to achieve nuclear disarmament, a test ban and the abolition of nuclear tests throughout the world. I actually agree with all the sentiments that have been expressed about the need for us, as a nation, to take a very definite and very clear stand against nuclear testing. I do not know whether those arguments need to be reiterated.

However, in relation to this issue facing us in relation to the tests in India, there are some comments that can usefully be made. They relate to the fact that the Indian Government, actually at the time of its election, made quite clear its intentions to continue with its nuclear development program and its nuclear testing program. I think there are issues of concern for us, as a nation, in relation to the lack of response by the Australian Government and by other governments to the specifically declared intention of the Indian Government to recommence its testing. It is something that we have known about for a number of months and is an issue that the Australian Government did not feel inclined to take up with the Indian Government at any stage.

One of the reasons why I will be moving two amendments is to make it very clear that we, as a nation, specifically and very determinedly oppose the actions of the Indian Government. Their actions have been provocative in the extreme and very unnecessary and send an extremely poor message, I think, to that region and to its traditionally hostile neighbour, Pakistan, with whom it shares a border. They are basically seeking to stare Pakistan down; they are encouraging Pakistan to retaliate and to up the ante in terms of its nuclear capability; they are basically almost daring them to seek to match the Indian action and the Indian defence capability. I think Australia's response has not been strong enough. I do not believe that the current Government has expressed sincerely enough or with any real commitment its opposition to the actions of the Indian Government. It was tardy in its response. Its response did not, I believe, send a particularly clear message that we condemn nuclear testing absolutely and that it was something that we, as a nation, actually viewed with abhorrence.

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