Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 8 Hansard (28 October) . . Page.. 2342 ..
MR STANHOPE (continuing):
I just had an interesting discussion with Mr Berry. Perhaps it is almost unique in the world that we in Australia achieved democracy without a revolution of any sort. We acknowledge in relation to nations such as Chile that they achieved democracy and lost it and had to fight to regain it. It is still, to some extent, fragile. In some nations around the world people committed to democracy are still forced to fight continually for it, and still pay an enormous human price in seeking those things that we here in Australia take for granted.
So it is important that we in Australia recognise what those who came here as refugees or otherwise have suffered, and this motion achieves that aim. But it is much broader than that, I think, and it goes to the responsibilities that we have generally as a nation and as a community to ensure that the lingering wrong that is endured by all those who have suffered under such a cruel and despotic regime is to some extent assuaged or reduced by our commitment to pursue those who are guilty of crimes against human beings. They are crimes broadly against humanity. People such as Pinochet and other despots who continue to walk the world stage should know that the countries of the world will simply not continue to accept that behaviour.
It is unacceptable, just at a basic human level, that despots such as Pinochet should have such absolute arrogance and effrontery. Somebody responsible for up to 30,000 deaths had the confidence to travel to London for medical treatment. He has done it before. This is not his first trip. It is unacceptable that people such as Pinochet walk the world's stage, travel freely, and go to London for the best medical treatment available, and the world stands aside and allows it to happen. Motions such as this are extremely important in focusing on the need for the world to address this situation. I accept the need to ensure that we take steps to signal that that sort of acceptance of brutality is simply unacceptable throughout the world. We do need to ensure that we use those legal means available to us. It continues to concern me that our structures are so antiquated, so legalistic and perhaps so ineffectual that people such as Pinochet appear to walk the world free and without a care, until, in Pinochet's case, his arrest in London at the behest of the Spanish authorities. I applaud Mr Berry for bringing this motion forward. I understand that he wishes to speak again, so I will end my comments.
MS TUCKER (12.19): I also rise to support the intent of this motion. I think it is very important that we, as a local assembly, speak about these matters and send messages to our Federal Government regarding them because we do have a role, if we choose, to take on many international issues. Of course, our role is also important because we have some 2,000 Chilean people now residing here in Canberra and, as we have already heard, some members obviously have a deep understanding of the devastation that Pinochet caused. Fathers, brothers and husbands never came home and the first alert to families was reports on the radio of the death of loved ones.
As members have said, it is difficult for people like us to understand what that would be like. Perhaps some of our Aboriginal indigenous people will have some understanding as Australians of what it is like to live in a regime which has no respect for your life or your family's life. Most of us would not have any understanding of that, but we have