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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 1 Hansard (19 February) . . Page.. 252 ..

MRS DUNNE (continuing):

No matter how we talk about this matter, we must come to the conclusion that after we join the campaign we cannot come out against our own government. That would only give succour to Saddam Hussein. It is important that we not do that. I am talking about joining a campaign which is large enough and coordinated well enough internationally that, if it continues as it has over the last weekend, would give aid and comfort to Saddam Hussein, by sending a message that a large number of voters in the West lack the will to use force, thus increasing the risk that Saddam Hussein will not back down and force will have to be used in the end.

I am saying to members that they should think carefully. Inform their consciences, but make sure that when they speak, they speak judiciously and they speak not only for their own warm and fuzzy feelings at the moment, but also for the good of our country and our soldiers to ensure that the best possible outcome is attained.

MS DUNDAS (10.17): I will start by responding to a few points that have been made throughout this debate. Mr Pratt, in his speech, talked about this motion and the rallies over the weekend and, over the past couple of weeks, of providing another chance for Saddam Hussein. I would like to run a counter-argument to that. It provides a chance for people not to be bombed. At the core of my argument is that the dropping of weapons of mass destruction, in an attempt to show people that we do not want them to use weapons of mass destruction is absurd. Mrs Dunne has spoken in depth about this being an issue of conscience, saying that we must consider it carefully-and I welcome her words.

Some members of this Assembly believe this debate would be best undertaken in the Australian federal parliament, but I understand the Prime Minister has already ruled that out. I put the question whether, if this debate about the commitment of Australian troops were to happen in the Australian federal parliament, the Prime Minister would let this opposition's Liberal colleagues vote on this issue as a matter of conscience.

It is a very concerning time we are living in-we are looking at a world in turmoil. I cannot see, in any way, that a pre-emptive first strike is the answer. People poured into the streets over the weekend. There were people in front of Parliament House, and women who, every Friday-and I have joined them a number of times-dress in black and observe a silent vigil in Civic. These people do not understand how the backing of George Bush and the invasion of Iraq will make this world a better place.

There are other options before us. We talk about United Nations resolutions and whether they are being followed, and whether we need a second UN resolution to resolve the legality of committing troops to Iraq. There are also UN resolutions about women's involvement in the peacemaking process. I ask the US government why they are ignoring this UN resolution. I ask people involved in the United Nations why one UN resolution is more important than any other. Why are we not seriously considering different ways to bring about peace?

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