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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 12 Hansard (13 November) . . Page.. 3569 ..

MS DUNDAS (continuing):

Throughout the debate, I have noted a great deal of passion on many of the issues that have been raised. It is a very complex issue, and I fully acknowledge that.

There were some concerns raised about whether or not the ACT parliament should even be debating this. To that I say yes, we are legislators and representatives for, and of, the ACT. However, we must also take on the role of community leaders and players in the national political scene. We have a voice, and we have the opportunity to join with other community leaders. Individually, we do not have control of foreign affairs, but together we make a strong coalition of opposition to war.

The Democrats have said from the beginning that supporting a first strike should be ruled out. We recognise that, if there were a war, it would be very difficult for Australia not to be involved, as we already have troops in the region-and of course HMAS Melbourne and HMAS Arunta are serving in the Gulf blockade, enforcing sanctions against Iraq. It would be very difficult to suddenly withdraw if war broke out.

As has been mentioned, Australian troops have a proud role in protecting those in need. Nevertheless, that does not prevent us from doing everything in our power to urge the federal government not to rush into the proposed United States-led military action.

In Sunday's edition of the Canberra Times, there was a profile of the Uniting Church president, Professor James Haire. He said that, whilst he used to believe in a just war, he can do so no longer. He said that the vastness of the collateral damage on the innocent really makes it very, very much more difficult to apply.

I ask the question: what good comes from perpetrating a cycle of death? There are alternatives to military action and the gross loss of human life-and they must be pursued.

Today, I was hoping that all of us in the Assembly would be able to join together to support this motion. It is an opportunity to join, as leaders, with other leaders in the community-religious areas, the unions, the RSL and other political leaders across Australia and the world-to make a very clear statement that we oppose a first strike on Iraq, and reaffirm the United Nations as the vehicle for seeking a non-violent resolution of the current issues.

I thank the members for the debate, and I thank the Assembly for its support, as a majority, for this motion. As we have all agreed that nobody here wants war, I hope we will work to achieve this outcome.

Motion, as amended, agreed to.

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