Page 2182 - Week 07 - Wednesday, 22 June 2005
The first paragraph of this motion is very important for this Assembly and for the people of the ACT. It asks us to relook at our commitment to the people of Dili and the sister city relationship. We must really be very mindful of just how tardy this Chief Minister has been in really implementing that. It was actually, for the most part, the work of Ms Tucker in the previous Assembly that got it going. Mr Stanhope, the Chief Minister, has been very tardy in this regard and that needs to be put on the record.
The people of Dili and district have not been served by this Labor government, just as the people of East Timor in 1975 were not served by the Whitlam government. The rest of the motion is a springboard for another go at the commonwealth. It reaches its culmination in paragraph (4), which should be anathema to any Australian. Mr Gentleman should hang his head in shame for suggesting or even thinking that the Australian people should subjugate their sovereignty to the sovereignty of another nation. We are talking about two sovereign nations dealing equitably with one another, with no favours on one side or the other.
We have had a lengthy, difficult process. The Timor Gap has been on the books as an issue since the mid-1970s, but the work that has been done has really been done effectively since the independence of Timor. It is a difficult concept and the commonwealth government and the Timorese government need to be congratulated for the progress that they have made, especially the progress in the last six to 12 months. Instead of using this motion as an opportunity, a really base opportunity, to have yet another go at yet another plank of federal Liberal policy, Mr Gentleman should be saying, “We’ve actually done pretty well by the people of East Timor. I hope that we can continue to do well so that they really can make progress economically, socially, in health and in education for the good of the people.”
This is not the way to achieve it. Mr Smyth’s amendment is absolutely spot on and Mr Gentleman’s motion, in particular the fourth paragraph, is a scurrilous and base attack on and undermining of the sovereignty of the Australian people.
MR GENTLEMAN (Brindabella) (4.39), in reply: I am pleased to see so much support for this motion in the Assembly today. I do need to clarify a statement made by Mr Smyth earlier. Mr Smyth said that in my speech I said that this motion had lost relevance. Quite contrary to that, I said it had not lost its relevance, Mr Smyth. Mr Mulcahy said earlier that Dr Foskey talked about the concept of sovereignty. Mr Mulcahy, what I want to see is the reality of sovereignty.
As I mentioned earlier, a motion moved by the Greens MLC in the New South Wales parliament last year received the unanimous support of the chamber. I ask you to consider this motion with the same good intent. This is not about charity. The motion that I have brought before the chamber today is about justice. It is about recognising and supporting the special relationship our community has with the people of East Timor and working to support that ongoing relationship in a meaningful way. Members, I urge you to reject the amendment and support the motion.
That Mr Smyth’s amendment be agreed to.