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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 7 Hansard (20 June) . . Page.. 2225 ..

MR HUMPHRIES (continuing):

increase that would logically lead to more investment and more jobs and an increase that could only be good for the ACT. Ms Tucker, no doubt, is looking at the interests of jurisdictions in other places, perhaps other places in the world, and how the liberalisation of trade might affect them. I think that there is at least an obligation on us to consider the effect on the ACT community of such a liberalisation process.

Mr Speaker, I am aware of an article on globalisation in the Canberra Times last month, written by Tom Connors. I recommend to members that they take a look at. In it he debunks a number of myths about the so-called oppressive nature of trade liberalisation. He point out that, in fact, it is an extremely important part of the process of improving the standard of living of people all over the world, particularly the standard of living of people in the poorest countries. I want to quote a couple of bits of that article. I think my colleagues will be returning to this issue, so I will not completely denude this article of its value, but I will say that there are a few things that are worth quoting here. In the first two paragraphs of the article, he says:

The rich are getting richer and the poor are getting richer although the gap between rich and poor continues to widen. The frequent comment that globalisation is making the poor poorer is not true despite its repetition by spokespeople for some international organisations.

The Australian Treasury, in the latest edition of its Economic Roundup, presents a detailed assessment of global poverty and inequality and argues that over the past 30 years the majority of the world's poor have achieved income growth faster than in developed countries for the first time in two centuries.

He goes on to talk about the impact in places like China and India and how those countries have changed. From personal experience, I can confirm that in places like China the change in the last 15 years has been absolutely staggering. He goes on in another part of his article to say:

A major role for the developing countries is to ignore the Hansonite rumblings about the evils of free trade and ensure that the products of the poor countries get easy access. This is the best possible form of aid we can give.

Mr Speaker, I quote those comments only to reinforce the sense that there is no black and white response that is appropriate to globalisation. Globalisation is now being pursued by every industrialised nation on earth and is being viewed in a positive way by many non-industrialised nations or by many developing nations for the reasons I have just referred to. I would strongly urge the Assembly not to get into the business of starting to react in a knee-jerk way to the things that people have been saying in places where violent protest has occurred about the inherent intrinsic evil of this process. People are not setting out to liberalise trade for the sake of oppressing the world's poor.

I have no doubt that the efforts of the nations of the world which are involved in this process, including Australia, including in particular the involvement in this process of governments of both the Liberal and Labor persuasion at the federal level, have been focused primarily on being able to improve the position of every community in the world, including those which are the poorest. The evidence that I have cited here tonight would suggest that that, indeed, has been a successful enterprise, given that the change in the last few decades has been very positive for them.

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