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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 3 Hansard (23 October) . . Page.. 4015 ..



law-a sovereign nation, irrespective of what you thought of the regime in that place. It was an awful regime, a repressive regime, a murderous regime, a regime that the world is better off without. Nevertheless a sovereign nation was invaded without the support of the United Nations, without the support or the coverage of international law. We did that, it was done in our name, as a result of which thousands of civilians died, tens of thousands of soldiers died. Dwell on that. Dwell on the death of those tens of thousands of soldiers-young, conscripted, probably opposed to Saddam Hussein, untrained, ill-equipped-

Mr Cornwell

: Mr Speaker, I really must protest. The Chief Minister is once again debating this matter. He is debating it under standing order 118 (b), but he is debating it under the cover of question time. We would be very happy to debate him on the floor of this house at any time.


: The question asked by Mr Pratt, as I recall, drew some comparison between the relationship with Baghdad and Iraq and the relationship with Beijing and China. I think that the Chief Minister is entitled to emphasise our position in both respects.


: That is some of the background, Mr Speaker. In the context of that and in the context of the enormous damage that has been done to the infrastructure of Iraq-not just in the war but over the last 10 to 20 years under the Saddam Hussein regime, over the 10 years of the embargoes and the lack of access to goods and equipment and the lack of ability to develop the infrastructure.

Iraq has suffered enormously and the ordinary people of Iraq have suffered. They have suffered at every level. Their infrastructure has been destroyed. Their education and health systems are, essentially, non-functional. Their agriculture has taken enormous blows, and much of the country relies on it. They are deficient in almost every aspect of their infrastructure, their lives and their services.

We have within the Canberra community a group of Iraqis-actually, refugees who have established themselves here-with real concerns and connections with their homeland. They have approached the government as the Australia-Iraq Friendship Society to discuss with me the extent to which I will support them in some of the issues of concern to them as they reflect on their homeland, on their relatives and friends and on the destruction that has been wreaked in their nation, including by us.

I think we have a moral obligation as an invading nation that was part and parcel of the wreaking of that havoc, the killing and destruction of those people, the destruction of that infrastructure and those services, to see whether there is a willingness or capacity within this community to do something. If there is that level of support, the government will join the community in seeking to foster and facilitate ways in which we can assist. I am sure that we can. I am sure that from the public meeting, from the forum, we will find ways, because we do have the capacity, we do have the goodwill and we do have an understanding around our moral responsibility to Iraq to do something. It may be that the ACT government will be part and parcel of that.

Since the raising of this issue, I have been approached by a senior member of staff at the Canberra Hospital, who has indicated to me that, in circumstances and under conditions,

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