Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 8 Hansard (28 October) . . Page.. 2340 ..
MR HUMPHRIES (continuing):
Mr Speaker, as I said, we join with the Assembly in condemning the actions of the Pinochet regime, and in expressing sympathy for and solidarity with people who have suffered under that regime. The motion before the Assembly calls on the Chief Minister to write to the Prime Minister and the Minister for Foreign Affairs, urging them to follow the same course as this Assembly. I certainly believe that the Federal Parliament should be asked to condemn actions of the former Pinochet regime, to acknowledge the sufferings of Chilean Australians, including those living in Canberra, and to support other governments in bringing the perpetrators to justice by every legal means possible.
Mr Speaker, there are a variety of ways of bringing people to justice. In the past sometimes those actions have not been necessarily legal. I recall the kidnapping of some political figures in the past to bring them to other regimes for the purposes of trial. Much as I oppose the actions of people involved in those particular situations, those leaders or politicians, or members of the military or whoever might be involved in those breaches of human rights, I believe that we need to move through legal means to address those problems. Indeed, the world now has well-developed systems of international justice that provide the opportunity for people in those settings to be brought to trial, as we have seen in recent years by the trials of a number of people charged with human rights violations in the Balkans.
Mr Speaker, on behalf of the Government, I support the motion, and I hope that the measure we take today will lead to further international pressure, not only to bring to justice those who perpetrate actions of the kind perpetrated by the Pinochet regime but also to put international pressure on regimes currently in office around the world to desist from these tactics in suppressing democratic sentiments within their own nations.
MR CORBELL (12.07): Mr Speaker, it is entirely appropriate that the Assembly adopt this motion today. As a community, Canberra has a large number of people who have migrated from Chile or who have been forced to come to this country because of the Pinochet military regime. I understand that approximately 2,200 residents of the Territory are former citizens of Chile or are relatives of former citizens. I am married to a woman whose family came from Chile and who migrated to the country a couple of years after the coup took place. I am very conscious of the vibrancy of this community in the ACT and their very strong sense of injustice that General Augusto Pinochet still wandered a free man until this most recent course of action in London.
I believe it is important that Australia take a strong stand on this issue. Australia has strong historical links with Chile, including, most notably, the first Labor Prime Minister of Australia, who was born in Chilean waters. The fact that he was on a British ship meant that he did not have to undertake military training in Chile. Our countries do have strong links and it is appropriate that as a community, both locally and federally, we communicate our concern and our resolution that the vicious injustices imposed by the Pinochet military regime on the Chilean people are pursued.
When I speak to my relatives, my in-laws and their friends about Chile I get a very strong sense that you cannot begin to understand what it means to live under a military regime. We are very lucky in Australia never to have faced that. We are very lucky never to have experienced it. By that very fact I think we cannot even begin to understand what it