Page 3902 - Week 12 - Wednesday, 19 October 2005

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I thank them for it. I know that you think we should have a police person on the corner of every street, with forensics on tap, Mr Pratt. However, I am of the belief that standing in one place all day and hanging around in case something happens is rarely helpful. The valuable services of forensics, I would imagine, are quite expensive and should only be used if they are going to reveal some useful evidence, which they obviously believe that it will do in this case.

I am happy and satisfied with the response that my family and I have received from the police service in the ACT. I remain confident in the police service and in their capacity.

Statements by Chief Minister and Minister for Planning

MR PRATT (Brindabella) (6.02): I rise to refer to a matter discussed here yesterday. Yesterday, Chief Minister Stanhope and Minister Corbell, in infantile fashion, pretended to compare my 1999 wartime Yugoslavia arrest and prison experience with that of the potential experience of those who might be arrested in Australia under the new counter-terrorism laws. They both sarcastically asked, as if my experience was a great joke, “How can you support the arresting of people? How did you enjoy your prison experience, Steve?” This was a puerile excursion embarked upon by both Mr Stanhope and Mr Corbell, because, of course, there is no comparison.

Look at the stark differences. The Milosevic regime, which arrested my two colleagues and me during wartime, was a murderous and totalitarian regime with a long track record in genocide, extra-judicial execution and regular random arrests. How stupid of them to therefore compare the Milosevic regime to the Howard government! There is no comparison. How dare these two members reach down to the gutter level and drag those personal experiences from a faraway land into this place, to be kicked around like a political football! How dare they use my wartime experience as a reference point to anchor their shabby case against the very necessary counter-terrorism legislation!

As for these continual attacks on my reputation, I make the point of saying that the Stanhope government is commenting on issues of which it obviously has no knowledge; its members obviously have not read my book, otherwise they would not be making the comments they do. They have continually shown their ignorance of such matters by regularly making accusations about me that they are really not qualified or entitled to make.

If they want to learn the facts, then they should read my book. It is freely available; they can buy a copy from me if they really have an interest in the subject. Until then, they really are not qualified to speak on the issue; so they should keep their mouths shut about issues which have no relationship to my work here at the Assembly and which they obviously have no legitimate understanding of. If they did, they would not make the ill-informed comments that they have made.

Mr Stanhope and Mr Corbell, both, have very narrow political hothouse experiences and no international or wartime experience. They are entirely ignorant of such matters. Or, if Mr Stanhope has the bottle, he should step outside the protection of chamber privilege and make his allegations public. But just as Mr Stanhope is too gutless to tackle the Prime Minister face-to-face on counter-terrorism legislation, I know he is too gutless to step outside the protection of privilege.

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