Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 8 Hansard (28 October) . . Page.. 2338 ..
MR BERRY (continuing):
I am told that one million people left the country for political reasons. About 30,000 Chileans are in this country. They are either refugees or people who came here for political reasons, or their families who joined them later. In their backgrounds there are the tragic circumstances of the military regime which continue to haunt them.
It was a relief, if you like, that in 1989 democracy returned to Chile, but it did not stop there. Then we saw the powermongers in Chile work to protect those who were involved in the cruel events of the years of the military regime. We saw Augusto Pinochet protected, and many of his cruel regime were protected by an amnesty. This, of course, enraged the democrats, those who wanted democracy in Chile, and rightly so, because the perpetrators of the cruel events of the military regime were then protected by this amnesty and many will never be brought to justice.
As an internationalist, I think it is important that justice is seen to be done in respect of people who have been at the helm of terrorist regimes. Pinochet would certainly be seen to be a person of that order. I recall that some years ago there were many advocates for democracy in Chile who visited this country and urged the Australian Government, various Australian governments, to make a contribution to the debate about democracy in Chile.
The most graphic illustration of the circumstances in Chile was brought home to me when a young woman visited this country on behalf of democracy in Chile. She and her male friend, who were young activists for democracy in Chile, were taken prisoner by the military or the police. They were doused in petrol and then abandoned in the countryside to die. They were found. The male friend died and the young woman went on to be an activist for democracy in Chile. She went to Canada, as I recall. When she came to this country she wore a body suit. I do not know whether you know what a body suit is. They are a device which is used to help heal serious burns. This was a full-length body suit which covered this young woman from top to toe. Well, I cannot forget that, and that is why I urge you to support this motion.
MR HUMPHRIES (Acting Chief Minister, Attorney-General, Minister for Justice and Community Safety and Minister Assisting the Treasurer) (11.59): Mr Speaker, on behalf of the Government, I want to express support for this motion and commend its sentiments to the Assembly. The motion does raise serious issues for this community and our expectations of the actions of government to defend the rights of people to involve themselves in democratic processes and to address and to attack breaches of human rights, wherever they might occur.
Chile is on the other side of the Pacific from us. It is a nation which shares some features of development with Australia. It is a major nation in the Southern Hemisphere about which we should have some concern. For that reason we ought to be concerned about this motion and be prepared to indicate our support for the people in Chile who have experienced the features of dictatorship under General Pinochet's regime which Mr Berry has outlined in his remarks.