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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 14 Hansard (11 December) . . Page.. 4341 ..

MR PRATT (continuing):

way, perhaps we will assist in cutting down on the movements of refugees, economic migrants and displaced people round the world. We talk of this type of intervention as being a positive way of making a contribution to resolving these types of issues. Perhaps we should see more support and more comments made in terms of that type of thing.

Mr Speaker, the emotive language about totalitarian states, the colourful but misrepresentative language used to describe barbed wire and the use of the term "hellhole"were totally unacceptable. I finish by saying that this sort of irresponsible approach in debating these types of issues where we demonise our own country and we demonise our own system is extremely unhelpful and will do nothing to resolve the problems that we face with illegal boat people arrivals.

MRS CROSS (10.21): I do not know whether I can speak to this motion now.

MR SPEAKER: It is not compulsory.

MRS CROSS: No, I know that, Mr Speaker, and I am sure that most people would prefer that most of us did not speak to it so that we can go home. I agree with some of the things that Mr Pratt mentioned. I agree that we should take at least twice as many refugees into Australia. I think that that was a valid point. I agree that we should be welcoming more people. I also know, having lived in countries where people suffer great adversity, that people do try various ways of coming into Australia and that we were and have been considered what was called a soft touch for many decades.

I also know that Australians are very compassionate in the way that they process-I use the word "process"because it is the administrative word, not the compassionate word-applications. I noticed our foreign missions in China, Indonesia and other Asian countries were very sensitive in how they handled people who wanted to come to this country. I suppose I have greater faith in the system. Perhaps over time I will be disabused of that positive faith; who knows? I know that the first year in politics has been rather interesting.

Before I talk to Ms Tucker's motion, I would like to move the amendment circulated in my name. I move:

Omit "adopt", substitute "emphasise the importance of".

I will explain why I have done that.

I would like to speak to this motion, but first I would like to qualify my position on refugee treatment and asylum seekers. At this point, I am not opposed to Australia's refugee policy. I believe that Australia's treatment of refugees and asylum seekers is fair and equitable and is well balanced with Australia's security policy.

Whilst I strongly disagree with Ms Tucker's extreme assertions that Australia's refugee policy lacks compassion and is inhumane, I will be supporting her motion with one amendment, the one I have just mentioned, and because of the amendments the government is putting forward.

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