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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 4 Hansard (2 April) . . Page.. 1283 ..

MS DUNDAS (continuing):

shameful part of our history. More than 200,000 Timorese died as a result. But in return for access to the lucrative oil and gas deposits under the Timor Sea, in 1978 Australia became the only country to formally recognise the Indonesian annexation, something even the UN never did.

The current assault on the basic democratic rights of long-term Timorese residents in Australia is entirely in line with the record on East Timor of successive governments over the last three decades. The overriding consideration dictating official policy has been to obtain the lion's share of Timor's oil and gas wealth and to advance Australia's strategic and economic interest in the region, regardless of the consequences for the Timorese people.

It is time that we took responsibility for these people and showed some compassion. Perhaps this motion will inform the Howard government that at least some people in this community care about Australia's image overseas and that Australia should act as a compassionate global citizen.

MS TUCKER (5.52): The Greens will be supporting this motion as well, although I do feel slightly uneasy about it-not because I do not have absolute sympathy to the plight of the East Timorese people. I have a long association with the issue, like many people in this Assembly and the Canberra community.

What I hear Mr Pratt saying is that this is a precedent. The argument he put is that he will accept it and the government should consider accepting it because Australia has responsibility due to its gross mishandling of the situation for so many years. The reason I feel slightly uneasy is that there are many people from different places in the world who are actually in much more danger than the East Timorese people.

Our compassionate minister, Mr Ruddock, is sending people back to Iran, offering them money to do so and saying, "If you do not accept this money and go, you'll go anyway."What they would be going back home to is death. That is well established. There is also a grave question about whether there has been any agreement with Iran anyway-not to mention our friends from Iraq. I am also now personally acquainted with a number of them in detention centres. There is the bizarre situation where we are bombing Iraq with this Bush-led attack and creating millions more refugees.

My fundamental feeling is that we do not have a government that shows compassion, has any sense of its human rights obligations or responsibilities under international conventions or seems to care at all about the very many people who will want to find a home in Australia and other countries as a result of its foreign policy on Iraq.

There are other people in a similar situation in Australia right now on TPVs, which are inhumane anyway. There are the Kosovars. We made a special plea for Kosovars in this Assembly when Kate Carnell was here-I have a copy of the letter here. It was signed by everyone in the Assembly except for Mr Cornwell. I think he was the only one who didn't sign it at that time. Mrs Carnell sent it to Mr Ruddock.

We have Afghan refugees at the moment on TPVs in Young, who are well accepted in the Young community. They have been employed at the Burrangong meat processing

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