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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 6 Hansard (15 May) . . Page.. 1611 ..

MRS DUNNE (11.29): I am proud to rise today to support Ms Tucker's motion on the endorsement of the Earth Charter. The Earth Charter, as Ms Tucker has said, is a document of many iterations that has evolved over 10 years, with the endorsement of a range of luminaries such as Maurice Strong and Mikhail Gorbachev, and has come under the auspices of the Earth Council.

The great thing about the Earth Charter is the way that it appeals to such a broad brush of the community. It is about conservation and sustainable living, but it is not about sustainable living in the arid environmental sense. It is about the whole way we live our lives. It has a spiritual vision about it which has garnered support from many people from many different religious backgrounds and traditions. The Earth Charter is a broad brush document that gives us a wide set of guidelines on how we might better live our lives in a whole range of areas, across everything that we do in our everyday life and the way that we interact in a local community and as a global community.

I note that the aim of the Earth Charter is to obtain adoption by the UN as part of the Rio+10 Conference in Johannesburg in September this year. I am not entirely sanguine about the prospects of this happening because I think the language and the breadth of this document go beyond the ken of UN organisations. I think that UN organisations tend to be bureaucratic and stultified and bowed down with bureaucratic language, and this spiritual flair to the language is beyond the ken of such an organisation.

I am particularly chuffed to see the enormous emphasis in this document on the integrity and the respect for life in all its forms. The abiding principle is a firm faith in the inherent dignity of all human beings. Throughout the document there is a strong sense that human life and the life of all things on the planet should be respected and uplifted. In many respects the Earth Charter does not go far enough and this is one of the places where I would like to see more done-that perhaps this document in its next iteration could affirm its faith in the dignity of all human life from its conception to its natural end.

It is with great joy that I support the general intent of the motion. As Ms Tucker said, this is not black letter law, this is not soft law even. While we might differ at the margins as to where the emphasis might be, it is a set of guiding principles that all of us should be able to support.

I would also like to move the amendment circulated in my name. It is a very brief amendment that addresses the issue that some of the aspects of the Earth Charter have impacts on Australia's national and international affairs that are beyond the bailiwick of the ACT government, and there might be some elements of the Earth Charter that cannot be logically implemented within the ACT jurisdiction. I move:

In paragraph (2) after "adopt" insert "relevant parts of".


(Minister for Urban Services and Minister for the Arts) (11.33): Mr Speaker, I will speak directly to the amendment moved by Mrs Dunne, which the government will not be supporting. We understand exactly where you are coming from and we agree, but I think in informal discussions around this chamber it is understood that these are guiding principles. They are fine principles, but it is not up to this

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