Page 1006 - Week 03 - Thursday, 3 April 2008
MR STEFANIAK: It was. I am not going into the circumstances of that; I will leave that for another time. But I just want to raise an issue about that amendment now that the legislation is passed. I refer the government and members to the scrutiny of bills committee comments. The committee normally does not make a comment such as that something should be the subject of major legislation and its own substantive bill, and I cannot recall that with any of the JACS bills to date.
There is a very good reason for that—hence my putting up that amendment at the time—and that is that, for a matter such as people with those disabilities going on a jury, substantial work would need to be done. There are a number of issues in relation to that. I can see the reason for that particular amendment; I have no problems with it. But in terms of what is involved, I think there is a very strong case for a substantive bill just to ensure that you get it right. It is probably not going to happen all that often, but there will be times, when a person suffering from those disabilities will be on a jury, and certain things will need to occur. It is important to get it right rather than do it in an ad hoc way. The scrutiny of bills committee was quite right to indicate that a substantive bill was needed, and I think it would have been preferable if that had been the case rather than for that just to go through in an omnibus bill. I make that point and I refer members, as I think I said in my in-principle comments, to the scrutiny of bills report, which makes some very profound comments on that.
Mr Speaker, my second point tonight—and I thank you for passing this around to members—relates to a press release from the Embassy of the Russian Federation in relation to Holodomor and the lighting of a torch. I think that torch relay starts on 6 April in Canberra, and I have already given my apologies. But members may recall that in an adjournment debate earlier this week I mentioned the commemoration of Holodomor, or the man-made famine in the Ukraine.
I can understand the Russians being a bit testy on this. I am pleased, at least, to see that they acknowledge the unjustified and anti-human way the Stalinist governments implemented economic reforms.
Mr Mulcahy: In a half-baked fashion.
MR STEFANIAK: It is very half-baked. They grudgingly say that yes, indeed, that was a tragedy. They talk about an unprecedented drought, however, and say that countries other than just the Ukraine were the victims of mass starvation. The fact was, however, that it was Stalin’s policy to wipe out the kulaks. The kulaks fundamentally were in the Ukraine. Ukraine was an independent state from 1918 to 1921 and it was a deliberate policy by Stalin and his cronies to destroy the Ukraine and destroy as many people as possible.
We have talked about genocide. Russians do not like the term “genocide”. You can have genocide of your own people, and at that time the Ukraine was within the boundaries of the USSR. Pol Pot, rightly, I think, has been accused of genocide—genocide of his own people. Two million Cambodians were slaughtered between 1976 and 1978-79, while that murderous regime was in power, out of a population of about two million. So I think the Russians are being ultrasensitive in complaining about the word “genocide”, because it has been used in those types of situations and it is, rightly, used in terms of what Stalin tried to do to the Ukraine.