Page 2181 - Week 07 - Wednesday, 22 June 2005

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representatives, always have to be careful when we see advocacy groups pushing particular causes. Look behind the message, ensure the data is accurate and take the trouble to check which members on this side of the house took the trouble today.

So, whilst the sentiment in the motion is sound in many respects, I do have a real problem with the fourth paragraph. I am a member of an Australian territory parliament. My paramount consideration will always be the people of Canberra. In a national sense, it is the Australian interest. I do not think that we ought to be carrying resolutions saying that another country’s position is of paramount concern, no matter how difficult or worthy that cause. We can be pleased with the progress. We probably could be a little more gracious in acknowledging the progress, which has been considerable since this matter was placed on the notice paper. But I do not want to get into a heated debate about that.

I believe that Mr Smyth’s amendment is in order, that the matters before us need to be considered in the context of the remarks that Mr Smyth and I are providing for the information of members and I commend these views to the Assembly.

MRS DUNNE (Ginninderra) (4.33): To address Mr Smyth’s amendment, which is a simple one, is my principal task. As Mr Gentleman’s motion currently stands, it is an enormously divisive motion. As Mr Mulcahy has pointed out, Mr Gentleman put this motion on the notice paper in March and a lot of water has passed under the bridge since then. A lot of negotiating has been done and it may have been more appropriate perhaps for Mr Gentleman to have amended his motion before it was brought up for discussion to take account of what has happened in that three or so months between the moving of the motion and the debating of it.

What Mr Gentleman has done in any case, whether or not there had been progress, is completely inappropriate. For any legislator in this country to insist in some way that Australia should not look after its interests first but put another country’s first is anathema to the sovereignty of this nation. Very many people in this place have talked about the sovereignty of East Timor. Mr Gentleman’s motion asks the Australian people to abdicate their sovereignty in favour of the sovereignty of another nation.

We in this place from time to time have spoken warmly of and have extended the hand of friendship to East Timor. In the ACT that is the case. Ms Porter spoke about the AFP contingent. Many ACT AFP police officers went in that first contingent. She named some of them. Dr Foskey spoke about the great work done by community groups and named some of those people who have been involved in community groups upholding the rights of the people of East Timor. I would like to add to that list. Bishop Pat Power and Robert and Wendy Altamore do the most sterling work for the people of East Timor, as well as for their many other interests in the community. Every time you go to a function for the East Timorese community, Robert and Wendy are there running the thing and making sure that it works. Their commitment to the people of East Timor in this context should be acknowledged. The same goes for Bishop Power.

But what we are seeing here today is what I think Mr Smyth called a Trojan horse motion. Yesterday and today I have spoken about the sorts of motions that the Labor Party and also the crossbench are taking up: “Let’s find something that is vaguely associated with the ACT as a springboard to having a kick at the federal government.”

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