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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 3 Hansard (23 October) . . Page.. 4052 ..



genuinely tried to bring some parties together to overcome what is a stumbling block and move forward.

I do have a little bit of a disappointment, though. I attended the lunch that Mr Pratt referred to earlier at the National Press Club, which was to celebrate 30 years of multiculturalism and hosted by my friend Al Grassby. I was one of four speakers. Of course, the three other speakers were far more important than me. I am a friend of Al, and he asked me to come along and to say a few words.

There were two federal members and our own Chief Minister. One of the things that I admire about the Chief Minister, from my observations of him over the last three years, is that I have never seen one iota of racial prejudice in him. I cannot say the same of others in this place, which is why I was a little disappointed when the Chief Minister-on a day of celebration and talking about the successful integration, assimilation and acceptance of over 200 ethnic groups in this country, which has made Australia the most successful multicultural country in the world-used the occasion to condemn the federal government's position on the war in Iraq.

He used it to once again mention a possible sister city relationship with Baghdad, and he also referred to our moral obligation to Iraq. I am not going to use this speech to insult this man, because as I said I have never seen in him an iota of racial prejudice, but I do have some comments to make on the condemnation he expressed that day of the federal government.

Mr Stanhope has said, not only today but on other occasions, that tens of thousands of Iraqi soldiers have been killed. That figure surprised me, and I wondered where he got it from. If you follow developments, you will know that most Iraqi soldiers simply left the battlefield because they were not willing to fight for the vicious dictator Saddam Hussein. As far as civilian loss is concerned, there was nothing like the number of civilian casualties either. Making up figures is not an honest way to go about speeches.

He also said that we should not have gone to war without the blessing of the UN. What was the alternative? What would the UN have done? Would the UN have continued to sit there for another 12 years while Saddam Hussein continued to thumb his nose at them, slaughtering not only his own Iraqi people but mainly Shiites in the south and Kurds and draining the marshlands, so destroying a culture thousands of years old?

What would the UN had have done while he continued with the same old behaviour? Would it, as it did in Bosnia, have its troops stand by while thousands of Moslem men were slaughtered in Srebrenica? Would it show the same spineless ineptitude it showed in Rwanda, when it would not permit its peacekeeping commander to take actions that might have prevented the mass slaughter of hundreds and hundreds of thousands, and while Mr Annan, then responsible for peacekeeping operations, stood by wringing his hands while the rivers were gorged with blood?

Chief Minister, do you really understand what the primary role of the UN is supposed to be? Do you understand why it was established in the first place? I do not think so. It was set up primarily as a world security organisation, but it has steadily been hijacked, emasculated and sidelined. It cannot do properly what it was supposed to do, so do not

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