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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 7 Hansard (20 June) . . Page.. 2228 ..

MR BERRY (continuing):

The results of the last election tell us that we all have a bit to learn about American politics. I do not want to confront the ACT Greens too much, but I think it has to be acknowledged that, but for the campaign that was run by the Greens in the US, we would still have the Democrats in power. I am sure that at this point we will hear cries of Tweedledum and Tweeldedee, that Gore would have been the same as Bush and that the Senate has voted by 90-plus to adopt Bush's position, but you could not say that a Senate with a considerable number of Democrats in it would abandon a new Democrats presidency and wipe out his agenda in one fell swoop. I think that we have to understand what is happening in the US. There has been a change and Bush's agenda is starting to permeate through the international community. I trust that with these sorts of motions we will be able at least to get a better understanding in the ACT about the road we should tread in the future. I urge members to support the motion. I will not be taking extra time, even though I am sure that the Assembly would give me an extension.

MRS BURKE (8.15): I would like to make a couple of comments. The General Agreement on Trade in Services, GATS, was an important outcome of the Uruguay round of multilateral trade negotiations, according to a Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade document that was put out. The purpose of GATS, as we all know, is to progressively liberalise global trade in services. It does provide for the first time a multilateral framework of rules for trade in services.

I have a couple of comments further to those of the Chief Minister in reference to Tom Connors' article in the Canberra Times on 31 May. He states that globalisation has helped the rich get richer, but has also lessened the poverty trap. He went on to say that over the past 30 years the majority of the world's poor have achieved income growth faster than in developed nations for the first time in two centuries. That is pretty impressive. It is understood that wage rates in undeveloped countries are very low compared with those in Australia, but it must be argued that there are more people employed and, as a result, they have a better lifestyle, while the relatively poor in Australia are buying clothes, shoes and other products at lower prices.

To paraphrase a letter in the Canberra Times on 8 May, over the past 20 years the people who have enjoyed the fastest growth in real living standards are those on lowest incomes. It must be noted also that even the poorest of low income earners have received a 160 per cent increase in weekly income since 1982. We cannot allow the narrow and shallow thinking surrounding free trade to ensure that the products of the poor countries round the world do not get easy access. We must allow for that to happen, not block it. Surely this is the best possible form of help and assistance that we can give to emerging poor countries. How else will these countries ever be free from the poverty cycle?

As is said, feed a man a fish and you have fed him for a day; teach him to fish and you have fed him for life. Whatever we do, we must ensure free trade for those countries to grow and thrive. We must give dignity to those seeking to help themselves, not keep them suppressed and oppressed. Richer, more affluent economies round the world surely have a responsibility to come to the aid of poorer countries in this very practical way. I wonder what solutions those on the far left of politics have for resolving world poverty. Campaigning against free trade will not help those who are in greatest need of liberty and freedom from the oppressive bondage of debt. I will not be supporting this motion, which only seeks to hamstring the poorer countries from moving forward into the 21st century.

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