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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 12 Hansard (13 November) . . Page.. 3509 ..

MR HUMPHRIES (continuing):

There is no discernible difference between this kind of appeal and any other kind of charitable appeal that has been run in the last decade or longer in this country, except for the fact that this one happens to be extremely urgent and relates to a pressing social problem facing the ACT and the rest of Australia.

Members took exception to the idea of trying to develop drought-proofing measures. Again, those comments were laced with prejudice and with irrational statements. Mr Wood said that you cannot possibly drought-proof Australia, so measures to drought-proof it seemed to be futile and pointless.

Mr Wood: When did I say that?

MR HUMPHRIES: You did say that or words to that effect.

Mr Wood: Words to that effect?

MR HUMPHRIES: They were words to that effect. I cannot quote you exactly. I do not have a Hansard in front of me, but that is the argument you put. You made the comment that it is pointless to-

MR SPEAKER: Direct your comments through the chair, Mr Humphries. It will make it a little bit easier.

MR HUMPHRIES: I am, Mr Speaker. You said it is pointless to have a program for drought-proofing, because you cannot drought-proof Australia. You used those words. It is true that you cannot drought-proof Australia, but you can have measures towards prevention. We talk a lot in this chamber about prevention. We talk a lot about not being just reactive but also proactive.

Perhaps atypically for a major charitable exercise, a major appeal to deal with a natural disaster, this also talks about proactive measures. Disturbingly, members have chosen to pick up some of the as yet hypothetical propositions for proactively dealing with Australia's proneness to drought to sink this motion, to deny support to Australians who are suffering at the present time.

I do not know whether the idea of turning the rivers back makes sense. It does not sound like it makes much sense to me. I do know that the idea of covering water channels has a great deal of merit. I say that because I heard Professor Peter Cullen, formerly of the Cooperative Research Centre for Freshwater Ecology at the University of Canberra-

Mrs Dunne: And a member of the Wentworth Group.

MR HUMPHRIES: And a member of the Wentworth Group. He said it made some sense. We are not being asked to vote with our dollars as to whether we approve particular propositions any more than we are when we are asked to donate to an appeal run by any other charity which might also support preventative measures. We are not being asked to approve and tick off every measure they might be taking. We are being asked to take a step towards supporting the concept of prevention and action to assist those who are genuinely affected by this disaster. That is all that is being asked for.

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