Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2008 Week 01 Hansard (Wednesday, 13 February 2008) . . Page.. 217 ..
extraordinary, the number of people who were in Civic. Great credit is due to the organisers, well supported by our local community.
My only regret is that more people out of Canberra are not aware of what a spectacular event it is. I was there on Saturday night, as I imagine a number of members were, and I saw the incredible enthusiasm for the stalls and the entertainment on each of the different corners of the Civic area. If that message and representation was seen in Sydney and Melbourne, I am quite sure that larger numbers would come from interstate and we would see the introduction of fresh investment into our economy from tourists enjoying the delights of our city.
Dr Jose Ramos-Horta
Mr Xanana Gusmao
MS MacDONALD (Brindabella) (6.13): Mr Speaker, on Monday you, Dr Foskey, Mr Mulcahy and I had the opportunity to host participants in the La Trobe University-World Bank Institute course on public accounts committees and transparency within government. There were a number of participants. At lunchtime I asked about the numbers of participants in that course. I was told at that point that there had been 33 in the morning, but that the East Timorese had had to pull out, given what had happened in East Timor. That was the point at which I became aware of the attempted assassination of President Jose Ramos-Horta and Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao. As we are now all aware—I was not at that point—President Ramos-Horta was shot by rebels on early Monday morning and remains in a serious but stable condition in the Royal Darwin Hospital. Prime Minister Gusmao escaped a later attack uninjured.
East Timor became independent in 2002 after more than two decades of Indonesian rule and since that time, Mr Speaker, the East Timorese have been faced with violence and instability. Security in the country remains volatile with rebel attacks and major conflicts with armed forces a regular occurrence. When Dr Ramos-Horta won a landslide victory in the presidential elections in May last year, he stated that it was no time for celebrations because it was going to be five years of very hard work. However, with the election of the new government in Dr Ramos-Horta and Mr Gusmao, there was renewed confidence that the country would become more stable and secure and move away from the violent clashes. It might be fair to say that there was confidence and, as well, hope.
Monday’s attacks are in contrast to this and with the shooting death of the rebel leader Alfredo Reinado during the attack on Dr Ramos-Horta, some fear that there will be reprisal attacks which will result in more violence and bloodshed. However, there is also hope that the death of the rebel leader will simplify the task of unifying the country. I am sure that all in this place would agree that it is sad to be looking forward with hope after a violent death.
I ask members to note how fortunate we are here in the ACT and Australia. As elected representatives we have no fear of being ambushed during morning walks or while travelling to and from the Assembly. In fact, when I go on my morning walks, the only thing that I have to worry about is the occasional magpie. If we are elected we do not have to consider the possibility of being killed by those who oppose our beliefs;