Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 3 Hansard (23 October) . . Page.. 4014 ..
you have totally failed to grasp the golden opportunity for real and tangible benefits presented by our sister city relationship with Beijing?
MR STANHOPE: Mr Speaker, I do not pray often, but when I got up this morning I prayed for a question on Iraq and Baghdad. Thank you, Mr Pratt. I prayed for this question, Mr Pratt.
Mr Speaker, it is true, as Mr Pratt says, that I have agreed to attend and, indeed, co-host with the Australia-Iraq Friendship Society a function to determine whether there is within the Canberra community a feeling, a willingness, a capacity or the goodwill to hold out the hand of friendship to people in Iraq.
Opposition members interjecting-
MR SPEAKER: Order! The question came from the opposition benches and I trust that members of the opposition want to hear the answer. If there are any more interjections, I will start warning people.
MR STANHOPE: Yes, I have done that. I think that it is an appropriate thing for us to do. I think that it is appropriate for us as a government and as a community to determine whether we believe that there is a role that we can play. I cannot understand how anybody could gainsay or criticise that. In fact, I understand that there will be a matter of public importance debate today after question time, promoted by Mr Pratt, on issues of support for the multicultural community, and here we have Mr Pratt sneering at support that this government is providing to the Iraqi community in Canberra today.
What a double standard! In half an hour we will be debating, at Mr Pratt's instigation, a matter on support by this government of Canberra's multicultural community and here he is sneering at me for seeking to determine whether this community is prepared, particularly in the light of our part as a nation in the invasion of Iraq, to undo some of the damage and assist the people of Iraq in some way to restore that country, including the services in that country, to some extent.
How quickly we forget that we were part of a tripartite group that invaded that country, that we killed between 2,000 and 7,000 civilians. Isn't it interesting that nobody has the number because they did not really count? They were just a bit of the collateral damage-dead children and mothers, kids with arms and legs blown off-
Mr Cornwell: I take a point of order under standing order 118 (b), Mr Speaker. If the Chief Minister would like to formally debate this matter, we would be happy to oblige him.
MR SPEAKER: I think that you are in a bit of a bind, Mr Cornwell, because Mr Pratt did ask a question around Baghdad and so on and I think that the Chief Minister is entitled to tell the Assembly, in responding to that question, about the engagement of the government with the community on these issues.
MR STANHOPE: That is what we are responding to. It cannot be forgotten that we as a nation, in our name, went to war, that we invaded unilaterally and without the support of the United Nations-in the view of many of us, in a way that was illegal in international