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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 1 Hansard (19 February) . . Page.. 238 ..

MR WOOD (continuing):

The Chief Minister has asked me to pass on his apologies for not being here to participate in this discussion because of a longstanding engagement. Mr Stanhope attended the march on Saturday and, had he been here, would have supported the motion with my amendment.

Members will remember that on 13 November 2002 the Assembly passed a resolution for the Chief Minister to write to the Prime Minister informing him of the Assembly's opposition to a war in Iraq not sanctioned by the United Nations. At that time, the Chief Minister wrote to the Prime Minister and conveyed the resolution affirming the role of the UN as a vehicle for seeking a non-violent resolution of the issues and urging the federal government to exhaust all diplomatic effort towards a peaceful resolution, noting the UN's continuing ethical duty to seek peace for the people of Iraq.

Since that correspondence to the PM, the issue has gathered much greater momentum in the community, locally and globally. Last Saturday, thousands of Canberra people were moved to protest in the streets in the city centre. They were all very naive, according to Mr Pratt. In fact, there were simply trillions of people round the world who were naive, on his estimation. They rallied because they wanted to send a strong message to the Prime Minister. The message is that there are other avenues of resolving conflicts and they need to be pursued to the very end.

Those who attended last Saturday were there because they harbour genuine concerns about the way events are unfolding in Iraq. Unquestionably, Canberrans want this impasse settled peacefully and they do not want any nation acting unilaterally to engage in armed conflict in Iraq. The UN is the forum for dealing with this issue. It is clear to me that Canberrans are genuinely worried about the consequences of armed conflict. Any war with Iraq would result in significant loss of life, dislocation of families and a massive outflow of people fearing violence and terror.

The UN estimates that in the event of a war there would be up to 100,000 civilian casualties, between 4.2 million and 7.2 million internally displaced persons and up to 900,000 refugees. As members would know, Mr Stanhope is a great supporter of refugees and it distresses us that a situation may arise that leads inevitably to an escalation of the number of refugees.

As a parliament, we do not have any constitutional role in foreign affairs. It is important that we acknowledge that and not confuse our role as a territorial assembly and distinguish it from the role of the Commonwealth parliament as the parliament responsible for the conduct of foreign affairs. But here, as outside, we can state a view. There may, however, be merit in reminding the Prime Minister, who is playing a too active role in the international campaign against Iraq, of the dire and wide-ranging consequences of war. We support the motion, but propose the deletion of paragraph (2).

MR HARGREAVES (9.25): Mr Pratt attempted to provide a justification for waging war on Saddam Hussein, but he actually made a case for waging war on the ordinary Iraqis. I reject his case. Who appointed Mr Pratt as the saviour of Iraq? I would have thought that someone of Mr Pratt's experience on the ground would have seen that bombing the hell out of innocent women and children, and men for that matter, actually solves nothing. Eye for an eye stuff is a barbaric way of getting your point across.

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