Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 4 Hansard (1 April) . . Page.. 1172 ..
MR HARGREAVES (continuing):
Mr Speaker, the first Gulf War had at its core the invasion of Kuwait, and we went and did something about it with the United Nations' blessing. This is nothing short of an invasion by one rogue state trying to eliminate a political regime in another. If they had put some teeth into the United Nations then the United Nations would send some troops in and do something about it perhaps, and I might support that politically. I do not support our troops going over there with or without United Nations' sanction. I think it is a criminal act of bastardry on our part. The blood of any Australian person that dies over there will be on John Howard's hands, and I will be the first one to stick it at his doorstep.
MS DUNDAS (4.37): The ACT Democrats thank the Chief Minister for bringing this debate to the floor of the Assembly today. This Assembly has asked the Chief Minister to write to our federal parliamentary colleagues and people around the world, and it is pertinent that we should come back to close that debate now that some responses have been received. Although some of our letters have been ignored, parliaments such as those in Tasmania, the ACT and the Northern Territory are showing their strong opposition to this immoral and unwanted war against Iraq. Australians do not want a war-a war that will affect us internationally, regionally and domestically.
The Prime Minister cannot explain why we are in this war, why we are the only country in our region to be taking part. Why is New Zealand not in this war? New Zealand, which is known for its commitment to peace and an end to tyranny, is not in this war because it took a stand against the United States. Canada is not in this war as it has taken a stand against the United States. So I again ask: why are we in this war?
Last week in the Senate the Leader of the Australian Democrats asked the Minister for Defence why the Defence Department had purchased 10,000 anthrax vaccines when we had deployed only 2,000 troops. The answer was as simple as it was abhorrent: "Because we expect the war to go on so long that we will need to rotate our troops a number of times."Today we hear that several more members of the RAAF are heading off to help the US, that the position of naval boats is being changed, and that Howard will send more troops to take part in this war, this war that nobody wants.
I would just like to respond to something that was said by the Chief Minister. In his ministerial statement he said that what this war is doing is creating a hierarchy of human life. Just to correct that, Chief Minister: the hierarchy of human life has unfortunately been part of our world for a very long time. This war does nothing to stop-it unfortunately reinforces-this hierarchy.
The Leader of the Opposition questioned why we were having this debate about the Assembly's jurisdiction over international matters-matters of foreign affairs and of defence. We as members of this Assembly have jurisdiction over our hearts and our conscience, and also over our ability to speak out. We are the elected representatives of people in the ACT and we must take every opportunity we can to speak out on what we know is right, and we know that this war is not right.
Mr Smyth told us-I forget the exact words-that for evil to triumph it just takes good men to do nothing. The opposite of war, the opposite of this war, is not nothing. There are other things that we can be doing. We do have an international body called the