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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 6 Hansard (14 May) . . Page.. 1557 ..

MR CORBELL (continuing):

In contrast, the federal public service has just over 100,000 employees, and it has just over a 100 agreements. We have 14,000 employees and close to two-thirds the number of agreements as the federal public service. What an absurd number of agreements. I see Mr Cornwell nodding his head in agreement. Thank you, Mr Cornwell. What an absurd number of agreements to have in such a small government service.

We need a smaller number of agreements, which focus on getting better wage and employment outcomes for staff, better productivity, better operation of the ACT public service overall and consistent and core sets of agreements and conditions across the ACT government service. That is our focus, and that is the focus you have already seen in the principals agreement.

Sister city relationship with Beijing

MS TUCKER: My question is to the Chief Minister and relates to the ACT's relationship with Beijing. Mr Stanhope, in Sunday's paper I noticed another article dealing with China, in particular, the $25 billion deal for liquefied natural gas. In that article, a Mr Woo said that Taiwan, Tibet and the Falun Gong movement were sensitive issues that could impede strengthening bilateral relations.

Also, I have a ministerial media release from your office that is either a summary or the whole memorandum of understanding with Beijing. There is no reference in it to the issue of human rights. As you are aware, when the sister city partnership was agreed to by this Assembly almost two years ago, there was quite considerable debate about China's human rights record. It was suggested at the time by both Labor and Liberal that Canberra could perhaps contribute to China setting up systems that would protect the human rights of its citizens.

On the day the partnership was formalised with a reception for the mayor of Beijing here at the Assembly, a group of Falun Gong practitioners gave Chief Minister Kate Carnell a letter to pass to the mayor of Beijing expressing their concerns for practitioners in China who were victims of serious human rights abuse. As I understand it, the mayor refused to accept that letter.

In that context, can the Chief Minister advise the Assembly if he raised the question of human rights, as there are citizens of Canberra whose relatives are suffering under the intolerance of the current Beijing regime. Did you raise that on your visit to China? If so, what initiatives do you see you can progress in this area?

MR STANHOPE: Ms Tucker is quite right in saying that the sister city relationship with Beijing and views within the ACT community on the Chinese human rights record raise some difficult issues. There are a range of views within the community, within this place and, indeed, within the Labor Party-perhaps within every organisation-on how best to express one's concern about that record and how best to advance human rights. We will have that debate in relation to a bill of rights in the ACT.

More particularly, there are issues of how a government, or even individuals, should address human rights situations in another country. That is something every government grapples with. There are concerns within Canberra and Australia about Falun Gong practitioners in China. There are concerns in Canberra and Australia about the rights of

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