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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 7 Hansard (23 September) . . Page.. 2047 ..

MR HIRD (continuing):

All members are aware that tensions on the Indian subcontinent are longstanding and complex. On several occasions they have erupted into war. We acknowledge the concerns of both countries for their security, but generating a nuclear arms race in south Asia provides no solution, Mr Speaker. Nuclear testing will exacerbate, not solve, regional tensions. It is sad to think that two countries with good relationships with Australia in recent years are now slipping into a state of high tension.

Mr Speaker, I think that the Canberra community fully supports the Australian Government's action in unreservedly condemning the Pakistani Government for these tests, and we endorse the efforts of the international community in seeking ways to resolve tensions between India and Pakistan. While members will note that Pakistan and India have declared a moratorium on testing, we believe that both should sign the comprehensive nuclear test ban treaty immediately and unconditionally. Additionally, both should throw their weight behind international efforts to achieve a fissile material cut-off treaty and as soon as possible enter into bilateral dialogue to address the issues which separate them. The ACT community is committed to multicultural unity, and I am pleased to inform the parliament that Canberra's Indian and Pakistani communities live side by side in harmony, Mr Speaker. We are all aware that both contribute significantly to our community, and I am sure that both would be disturbed by these recent developments.

Mr Speaker, when we considered India's nuclear testing the Chief Minister indicated that the parliament had three clear duties. In light of Pakistani developments, these duties remain the same. Firstly, we must clearly state that we strongly oppose the Pakistani tests because nuclear testing on the subcontinent can only destabilise the region. Secondly, we call upon Pakistan to immediately stop further testing. Lastly, we want to inform others who may consider moving over the nuclear threshold that the people of Canberra, along with other Australians, deplore any move, anywhere, by anyone to enter or escalate the nuclear arms race.

With the parliament's approval, the ACT Government will continue to consult with the Commonwealth Government and closely monitor the situation in India and Pakistan. I believe that the Chief Minister should also contact the Prime Minister to inform him of the strength of feelings in Canberra about the Pakistani tests, and ask him to communicate these to the Pakistani High Commissioner.

MR CORBELL (10.52): Mr Speaker, the Labor Party will be supporting this motion. It is somewhat belated, nevertheless it is an important motion and one that we believe should be spoken to briefly. Clearly, nuclear testing in Pakistan, and earlier on in India, is a cause for concern for anyone in the world, but particularly for anyone who lives in the Indian/Pacific area, as we do. Any country that perpetuates the proliferation of nuclear weapons in such an aggressive and potentially hostile way causes us concern. Just as we have indicated our concern at the behaviour of the Indian Government in initiating what is effectively an arms race on the subcontinent, we equally condemn the Pakistan Government for being drawn into that race.

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