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Australia's relations with the United Nations in the post Cold War environment

ACTING CHAIR (Mr Hollis) —On behalf of the subcommittee I welcome the representative of the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom. I should advise you that the proceedings here today are legal proceedings of the parliament and warrant the same respect as proceedings in the respective houses. The subcommittee prefers that all evidence is given in public but, should you at any stage wish to give any evidence in private, you may ask to do so and the subcommittee will give consideration to your request. We have received your submission which has been authorised for publication. Would you like to make any corrections to that submission?

Ms Picone —There is a small correction where we talk about information in regard to Rwanda, that that situation was known. As Kofi Annan has said more recently, it is not information that was the issue.

ACTING CHAIR —Did you want that deleted, or did you want just a change to it?

Ms Picone —Yes, just amended would be—

ACTING CHAIR —At the end of your evidence, you might see the secretariat, John or Margaret. Is that okay with the committee members? I ask you now to make a short opening statement and then the committee might have some questions to ask you.

Ms Picone —For the information of the committee, Women's International League for Peace and Freedom is a very old NGO; it is 85 years old this year. We have had an interest in prevention of war from the very beginning. That is why we were set up. We were founded during World War I when women took a delegation to heads of state of all belligerent countries asking for a talking solution rather than the killing, maiming, raping solution that is called war. We have supported the League of Nations and later the United Nations in every way that we could.

As members of the Australian section of our organisation—one of 46 sections around the world—we have been very proud over the years of our own government's record in the UN. We have played a constructive part there. It seems that implicitly our governments have recognised that the international community is an active construct, something we have to build and contribute towards and which is continually evolving. It is not something we can take for granted.

We have been only too aware in WILPF that the international community has not always existed. We regard it as something to be cherished. So it is with some degree of disquiet that we perceive lately what may be a retreat from the fullest, most active engagement with the UN; it is a loss of momentum at any rate. I will give you three examples of the sort of thing we mean. There has been no statement of policy but it is just something we detect in the overall approach.

Firstly, in the National Consultative Committee for Peace and Disarmament, approaches were made to the Minister for Foreign Affairs concerning marking this year as the United Nations International Year for a Culture of Peace. As you know, no government backing has been forthcoming for the marking of this important year. Mr Downer apparently said that it was not being done because the prevention of war and the building of peace were the ongoing work of his departmen—or words to that effect. We consider that, if that is the case, this was an opportunity that was lost. We note by contrast, for instance, that the International Year for Older Persons last year did receive budget money.

Secondly, the recently concluded social development summit in Geneva did not have ministerial representation, although 110 countries did have representation at the ministerial level and 30 even had their heads of state there. We are just asking ourselves questions as this stage.

Thirdly, we were dismayed with the government's response to the United Nations CERD recommendations with that whole of government review. We are just asking ourselves: what does this mean and what message does this give to other nations about Australia's approach to the UN? It is an active construct and something we need to be continually building and working toward.

Finally, I would like to say that the United Nations clearly carries the hopes and aspirations of billions of people. There are many occasions where Kofi Annan has reported of being quite touched by the expression of that from people all around the world. It is precisely for that reason—that it carries the hope of billions—that it is very easy to make the United Nations the scapegoat for people's disappointment when the efforts of the international community fail, as they did so spectacularly, for instance, in Rwanda.

As we said in our submission, it is really important that we recognise that the United Nations is nothing more than the combination of the constituent nation states. So it is an apportioning of blame that just does not make sense. We think that any apportioning of blame to the United Nations is something that should be repudiated as a general direction.

ACTING CHAIR —Thank you very much. Before I pass you to Senator Payne to start with a question, in your submission on my page 16, on the first page where you summed up, you are talking about failures and blame, and you say that it is an:

... entity which has no existence apart from that of the states acting together. Such "blaming" of the UN, especially when levelled for reasons of short-term political expediency, needs to be recognised and widely repudiated.

We have been on this hearing for a week now and have gone from Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne, to today in Adelaide. So often people come before us and blame the UN as though it is some entity itself instead of, as you have so rightly said, it being the collection of whatever `it' that entity wants to be, what those independent sovereign states demand of it. I was particularly struck with that, but that is enough of my pontificating.

Ms Picone —Can I just make a comment on that?


Ms Picone —First of all, I would like to appreciate your coming here to Adelaide. You must have got up early to catch your flights, so I do appreciate your commitment to this process. Secondly, I would say that, unfortunately, that habit of apportioning blame to the UN is widespread and, of course, given that we live in a democracy—and the United States government has done it more than once—it is so easy to take a swipe at the UN and gain some apparent electoral short-term advantage. You folks are saddled with the terrible difficulty of having to get yourselves re-elected every time. So that is an implicit difficulty, I think—a quite marked one. Finally, I would say that there are many frightened people, many fearful people in our society. I have heard people, for instance, speak of the one-world government of the UN and they really are very scared. So it is easy to stir up that pool of fear and to use that for short-term politically expedient ends. As I say, it is to be regretted. I have not got the solution to that one.

Mrs CROSIO —We heard them all in Brisbane.

Ms Picone —Tell me, please.

Senator PAYNE —I am interested in your suggestion in relation to reconstruction, particularly on page 5 of your submission, in that your organisations thinks that reconstruction missions and authorities should comprise a designated proportion of women members. Are there any particular instances in recent times that you can point to which you think this may have been an advantage in, and how do you actually implement a quota arrangement or a designated proportion, as you describe it, like that in reality given the level of skill and training and so on that we are looking at?

Ms Picone —Could I just say, by the way, just as a suggestion, I think it would be really useful to give the speakers a copy of the little booklet we have got so we are referring to the same pagination. I have made a copy of our submission, but I am not sure. When you are saying page 1 and page 5, I am not always matching up. That is just a suggestion for the future for the secretariat.

Senator PAYNE —It is the paragraph immediately above `International criminal court'.

Ms Picone —It is fine; I know where it is. First of all, you ask whether there are any specific instances where it would have been useful. I would say I cannot think of a single one going through my mind. I have just been reading William Shawcross's book, you know the one, Deliver Us From Evil.

Senator PAYNE —Yes.

Ms Picone —It is excellent. In every single case he speaks of there—Rwanda, Angola, Sierra Leone, Kosovo, East Timor, I am sure I have missed some—

Senator PAYNE —That is okay, we get your drift.

Ms Picone —In every single case, I cannot think of an exception where it would not have been advantageous to have that prescribed number of women in the reconstruction teams. I think that that will go a long way towards solve a lot of the implicit difficulties that exist at the moment. For instance, we also mention in our submission that women in Cambodia reported difficulties with the UN personnel themselves in that the local women are very poor. It is the same with the increased traffic in women—it comes out of poverty. They were working in brothels and serving as prostitutes to the UN personnel themselves.

Having a large number of women—51 per cent I would go for—in those teams would go a long way to resolving those difficulties that arise out of having that imbalance. People get lonely and desperate. I would say there is not a single instance where I would make an exception to that. How do we go about it? It has been difficult, even with the greatest benevolence. For instance, I see Kofi Annan as a real ally to women's fuller participation. He advocated recently that the world's media be put in the hands of women on International Women's Day. Also, Karim Chowdhury, when he was President of the Security Council for the month of March, made an excellent statement on women in armed conflict. There is a broader realisation beginning to emerge on the importance of involving women in the mediation and reconstruction processes.

Even with the greatest benevolence and goodwill it has not been easy, for instance, to change the culture of the UN where men are mostly in the highest ranking positions. We know those are difficult things to resolve. I do not have an easy answer, except I would say that we need to keep that as our goal, not to move away from it and not say, `No, for various cultural reasons, 50 per cent is undoable in some way.' I would say, yes, we need to move to that. Although I do not have the particular answers, I say that the answers always lie in a collective effort of people's collective imagination and intelligence. We are quite capable of coming up with a solution to that.

Senator PAYNE —You talked about changing cultures and you were referring to the UN at the time. Let us look at the reconstruction process that is currently occurring in East Timor, which obviously requires significant development of laws, practices, procedures and policies and in that whole process some observers would say women are not sufficiently involved. If you wish to engage the local community—and my personal view is that that is fundamental to success—then you have to take up local participants as well. You are actually trying to negotiate through two sets of complex cultures—the UN culture and, in this case, the East Timorese culture. Do you think that makes it harder?

Ms Picone —Firstly, there has been an increase recently in the number of local personnel employed in UN teams. I think that general principle has been taken on board. William Shawcross talks about the great disparity in what was paid, for instance, to local personnel and to personnel coming from Geneva, New York, Europe and so on. I think that that disparity in wealth is often at the heart of the problem. By the way, I noticed on the program that the Campaign for an Independent East Timor is speaking next. They can give you more particular answers. They have a more precise picture of what is happening on the ground at the moment in East Timor. Perhaps the question would be usefully directed to them also.

There is a lot of disruption at the moment among local East Timorese people about the lack of involvement of local populous in the UN missions. It is very easy for the UN to take on a complexion of looking like rich versus poor, or even a rich north versus a poor south. If local personnel could be employed in greater numbers, it would go a long way to mitigating that divide, but I do perceive that divide between the rich and the poor being at the heart of a lot of the difficulties.

Senator PAYNE —My question was also directed to when there are cultural resistances to the involvement of women in a democratic process. I instanced in one of these hearings the other day the democratic nature of Kuwait which legislates for gender equality but does not given women the vote. They are going to think I am victimising them now, but I am not; it is just a current issue. There are some cultural challenges in that process as well which have to be negotiated. I wondered if you thought that those individual cultural practices in some of the countries that you mentioned, for example, made it even harder as well—not just the UN?

Ms Picone —I have got the point of the question now. As you know, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women has the most reservations of any convention. That is an indication of the problem that you have identified and the problem that we need to find a solution to. What I would say is that all cultures have good and bad aspects. I grew up as a Catholic and I can tell you that there are lots of good aspects of growing up in a Catholic culture, but there are some that are not so good.

Senator PAYNE —I grew up as a Methodist; I am not sure where that leaves me.

Ms Picone —You know exactly what I am talking about. In Irish culture, Tutsi culture, Polish culture—whatever culture you would like to name—there are good and bad aspects. I would say, as a bit of shorthand—and I am do not know how this will go with the men—that sexism is always a bad aspect of any culture. That is not to blame the men; I do not think men are to blame for sexism. But any cultural practice that does not recognise that women are full human beings with a full contribution to make is not a cultural practice that ought to be defended. I would say that, where the UN encounters those sorts of cultural difficulties among the local population, that should not be regarded as set in stone but as something to be negotiated around.

Senator PAYNE —Thank you for your help.

Ms Picone —Thank you. I appreciated your questions.

Senator BOURNE —You mentioned reforms to the Security Council. I fully agree with you. Can you tell us how you think that could best be reformed? What do you think would be the best way to do that?

Ms Picone —In our view there are great difficulties with reform of the Security Council. In Sister Patricia's submission and evidence here, those difficulties emerged also. Because of the permanency of the five and the need for amendments to the charter to pass them, it is almost impossible to get those changes that we can all see—and I think that even the P5 in their finer moments no doubt see the same difficulty. What I would say is that expansion of the numbers would be important from our point of view. We like the rotating chair, but what is going to happen is that, unless we can get those reforms—and I do not see a lot of hope for that—we are going to see more of what has happened with the International Campaign to Ban Landmines. People are going to be looking for forums outside where there is more fluidity, less rigidity. The problem there is the very oppositional antagonisms that still linger from the time of what we all fondly call the Cold War.

Senator BOURNE —You mentioned business NGOs—that there is probably too much emphasis, or it is becoming that way. Can you tell us bit more about your views on that?

Ms Picone —I cannot recall now whether we quoted this figure in our submission—these were figures from about four years ago. The world's biggest 200 multinationals now have 28.3 per cent of global gross domestic product, and they employ less than 1/100th of the world's work force. According to the UN's own human development report in 1996, the world's richest 358 billionaires had greater wealth than 45 per cent of the combined annual income of the world's people. The 1999 report indicated that that trend towards increasing disparity is a trend that is itself increasing. I am sorry; I have lost my train of thought.


Ms Picone —BINGOs, yes. It is inevitable, in a world where multinational corporations are bigger economic entities than, for instance, the whole of Austria's economy, that they are going to seek to have influence in international forums—and they have—so that the interests of multinationals get heard. Often I think those multinational corporations see NGOs such as ours, the International Campaign to Ban Landmines, the UNAA, the Red Cross and so on as in some way having an undue voice in the UN. When they are talking about a level playing field, they do not see how unlevel the playing field of their own construction is. So, increasingly, we see a trend of multinational corporations trying to redress what they see as the influence of these NGOs who are—

Senator BOURNE —Upstarts.

Ms Picone —With their huge resources it is very hard for us with our limited resources to gain any balance. I would really like to see some definition of NGOs brought forward that ensures that that inequity in distribution of world's wealth is not amplified by the activity of BINGOs in and around the UN.

Senator BOURNE —Thank you.

Mrs CROSIO —Can I first congratulate your league for putting in the submission which they did. You have put a lot of effort and work into it. I really was taken with your summary of recommendation 15:

That the trade union movement should be recognised by all Australian governments including conservative governments as a legitimate part of the NGO community with an important role in civil society.

I just had to put that on the record. Can I come back in serious questioning and ask: with the amount of knowledge that has been gathered and put into a submission like this, how does your league actually go about educating other people around Australia? One of the problems we have found in taking evidence, particularly in this past week, is that so many people out there do not understand, appreciate or even know what the United Nations is all about. Do you have an education process in place which other organisations could follow or adopt?

Ms Picone —Thank you for the question. I, too, think it would make a huge difference if all governments could work with the expression of workers' interests, not to have that. I think that oppositional frame of mind is a great difficulty and, in fact, what results in wars. Yes, we have been at the process of community education for 85 years and have tried any means we can think of to do that. To answer your question I could give you a full description of our league's activities, but I will just give a few little bits and pieces.

Mrs CROSIO —Is your league active in every state in Australia?

Ms Picone —Yes, except in the Northern Territory where we do have members but, as yet, not a branch. Our league is active in at least 46 countries around the world. When I say `at least', I mean that is growing very rapidly in South America. The women there are seeing the internationality and the consultative status of our organisation as a way to get their interests into international forums quickly.

I would say two things: one is that the main part of our work is really done in coalition with other NGOs, both at the international level and at the national level. For instance, our organisation was given the job of being the facilitating agency for the World March of Women in the Year 2000 campaign in Australia. That campaign grew out of another NGO—unrelated to WILPF—in Canada and their work, in turn, grew out of the United Nations' Beijing Platform for Action. I am trying to paint a picture here of the interconnectiveness of all the campaigns. WILPF, my organisation, is involved in a campaign this year—it will culminate on 17 October, International Day for the Eradication of Poverty—with some 20 other women's NGOs, including the YWCA, Women's Electoral Lobby, UNAA, women's committee and many others.

Mrs CROSIO —Do any league members get invited to speak to high school students or to give that knowledge, so that it is an ongoing process?

Ms Picone —As I said, we are doing everything we can think of doing. For instance, about four years ago here in South Australia we ran a yearlong project which we called Through Aboriginal Eyes. We invited children in schools to paint pictures of or to write poems on how they would see Australia if they themselves had been born Aboriginal. That was a very big project. We sent materials out to schools and we went into schools and spoke. We had a big launch of it at Tandanya and an exhibition that ran for about a month. That was just one project.

As part of the World March of Women in the year 2000, the Australian Education Union—which, through the ACTU, is one of the 20 women's organisations represented that I mentioned—is also putting a kit on the Net on the aims of the World March of Women. The aims are, by the way, the elimination of poverty, greater equity in the sharing of wealth between women and men, and the elimination of violence against women.

The other thing I want to say is that, a few years ago, we were fortunate to have funding through the national women's organisation. I cannot remember the exact name of the program now, but it was the national women's organisation operational grants program. We had funding for about five years. Please do not take the five years as being accurate; that is just an impression. During that time, our work was hugely facilitated. So much of our effort presently goes into fundraising. We had to work very hard, for instance, to raise I think $2,879 to have 80,000 cards printed for the World March of Women. The cards are going to be presented to Kofi Annan on 17 October. A lot of our work and my time goes into that sort of activity. When our organisation's work is diverted in that way, into fundraising and just scraping to have an existence, we cannot do the work that we really want to do, which is the community education work.

What I would say is that government funding of NGOs who are advocating for the UN is really important in educating the wider community. As I said, that pool of fear is out there and is whipped up by certain elements. I am not for a minute saying that they are malicious; I think they are fearful too. But we do have to think of ways to counter that, otherwise that is going to grow. We argue, somewhere in our submission, for funding for NGOs such as ours. It is with regret that we note that the UNAA—United Nations Association of Australia—has lost funding. That just puzzles us really. We think it is important that governments fund NGOs that are working to educate the community about the UN.

Mrs CROSIO —In the submission before us, you have also said:

Although the principle of deference to nations as sovereign entities has served the international community well enough for the past 50 years or more, we are inclined to take the view that in the post-Cold War period, the doctrine of sovereignty of nation states needs to be reviewed.

It is here also if you wish to have it. It comes under the concept of national sovereignty. How do you believe the doctrine of sovereignty might evolve in the future?

Ms Picone —As I also said in the submission, we appreciate the Secretary-General's lead in this direction. In this next century, because a lot of the definition of borders arose out of the colonial past, when whole peoples who were grouped together often had no cultural commonality, it is clear that we are now going to be in a period when those entities are going to break up. We have to prepare ourselves for that. I believe that this debate that Kofi Annan has called for is a way of doing that. We cannot go on assuming any longer that the nations, as they were defined at a certain point in history, can remain fixed forever after and that the UN machinery can be set in motion where peoples have legitimate aspirations for self-determination.

It depends on the goodwill of the constituent nation states. It really ties back to the question that I explored a little with Mr Hollis at the beginning of my speaking here this morning. It depends on the goodwill of governments to ensure that this debate is now engendered in the community in a way that is genuine so that people are encouraged to think about this concept, not to have it whipped up and stirred up in some reactive, fear filled way.

Mrs CROSIO —I think everyone would agree with you, but it is very hard to implement. Yet, we cannot give up.

Ms Picone —Yes, it is hard to implement. Call me na[iuml ]ve, but I believe that all people—whatever political party they are in—are good and that you can appeal to the rationality in everybody. If people can see that something needs to be moved forward for our common security, they can be engaged. It is hard—I am not saying it is simple—but it needs to be done.

Mrs CROSIO —Throughout your submission, you talk about reform. Under the heading of `Reform of the UN', you state that reform of the UN is a matter of urgency and that perhaps it needs more money, but nowhere do you cover what has been covered in other evidence given to us—for instance, the amount of duplication that occurs in the UN. Is money the solution to it, or is it a restructure of past practices to give them a different direction into the future. By `they' I mean not only member states but also the bureaucracy behind the UN. What is your opinion of that?

Ms Picone —First of all, I am not for a moment saying that the UN's internal operations cannot be improved. I think they can be and I think there have been efforts to do that. There is a bureaucracy in Paris that is obviously in need of some change. I would like to quote Kofi Annan, who says: `When the international community makes a solemn promise to safeguards and to protect innocent civilians from massacre then it must be willing to back its promise with the necessary means otherwise it is surely better not to raise the hopes in the first place.' He later goes on to say: `If we are given the means in Kosovo, Sierra Leone, East Timor and in Angola we have a real opportunity to break the cycles of violence once and for all.'

While I am not denying for a minute that improvements and cost-cutting measures can be implemented within the United Nations itself, I would say that overall it suffers from a lack of funds—which is a great pity and at the heart of the difficulty. For instance, in Rwanda, General Romeo Dallaire asked for a sufficient mandate and an increased number of troops on the ground. However, back in the Security Council, the Secretary-General called for two battalions of 5,000 troops, and out of that came a compromise resolution from the UN of 500 troops for Rwanda at a time when it was completely inadequate. What I am getting at is that inadequate funding is at the heart of the failure of the international machinery to redress these difficulties.

Mrs CROSIO —Another concern in your submission is that those who are on the international stage seem to be those who are wielding the power in the UN, and that that also needs to be changed. Again, that is very hard. Regardless of what the United States or Japan is doing, how does one actually change their input in the United Nations, as they are very large states? The smaller countries are saying that they want to retain the one vote, otherwise, with their smaller populations, they would be outvoted by the larger countries. The developed countries seem to be wielding a harder stick than the Third World countries participating in the United Nations. Could you can expand on that a little, or was it just a statement that you felt should go in the submission?

Ms Picone —I am happy to expand on that. It is a subject very dear to my heart. In the GA, they do have one vote. But the Security Council is the place where the power structure becomes inequitable. That reflects the relative wealth of the various countries. What I am about to say is unpopular, but what we have to do is change the economic system. That is clear. That is easy to say.

In this present arrangement, although it might appear to be in the interests of the United States, Germany, Japan, Canada or Australia to maintain this present inequitable economic structure, the cost of it is permanent conflict. If we are going to have a situation where we allow people rapaciously to make huge amounts of money out of the sale of arms, then those arms are going to end up being used. Small arms are the main killer of people. Clearly, it seems to me that what we need to do is put our heads together and come up with a system—and I am quoting straight from the aims of our organisation—that is based on meeting the needs of people and not on profit and privilege.

All sorts of groups and organisations in society have been trying to do that for a long time, but we need to say, `Look, we really have come to the precipice, given what is happening with our environment—the way that trees are being felled, the increased salination, the depletion of the ozone layer—and now 86 per cent of casualties in wars are non-combatants.' We cannot go on like this. There are six million of us here. Let us put our heads together and come up with an economic system that serves us well. When we do that, all those difficulties of the power imbalances will fall away.

Mrs CROSIO —Thank you. Can I say for the record, again, I will never ever hear the word `bingo' again without thinking of Business Interest NGOs.

Dr SOUTHCOTT —I want to ask you about peacekeeping and peace enforcement. Since the end of the Cold War we have seen a great expansion in peacekeeping, and I think the United Nations has been fairly successful in peacekeeping. Where it has really failed has been in areas where peacekeeping was not appropriate, like Rwanda, Somalia and Bosnia. I notice that you have a proposal for a standing army, and that is a proposal that has been around the United Nations for a time. Do you think it is more likely that we are going to see, in situations like East Timor or the Persian Gulf, for example, international coalitions of the willing acting under United Nations Security Council and General Assembly resolutions which can later become United Nations operations rather than a United Nations force operating? It seems to me that there is a big problem, as you said, in Rwanda with time lag and with the will, at a UN level, to respond to things which do require peace enforcement.

Ms Picone —The short answer to your question about whether I think that is what we are going to see is: unfortunately, yes. In my opinion—and I should say that this is not a unanimous opinion through our whole organisation—what happened in Rwanda, for instance, could have been prevented. If the Secretary-General is left in every situation to be scrambling around trying to pull together, piece together, an adequate force to go in—that is what happened in Rwanda. I think he said he made 450 telephone calls begging people to send sufficient troops there—and that is under coalitions of the willing—and he could not get them to go. General Dallaire was asking for an upgrading of the mandate to chapter 7 on peace enforcement and could not get that. To my mind, if there had been a standing army that the Secretary-General could have called on at the time in a very rapid response manner, the whole thing might have been averted in its early stages, before the propaganda of hatred was broadcast widely through the countryside in Rwanda. What I would say is that, if the Secretary-General did not have to scramble around begging constituent nations to contribute forces, we might be in a better position to respond rapidly. Some situations, unfortunately, do require that sort of rapid response.

I should say that in our submission we said that along with this we think that besides troops and the way we normally think of them armed with guns and kit going in dealing with the already pervasive violence existing in a situation, there should be a standing army of peacebuilders, what you might call `social workers'. We think that would go a long way, too, to improving things.

I would like to finish up on this if I could. Nobody asked me about our idea of having truth and reconciliation commissions before all this happens so that the peoples who are living alongside each other get a chance to express their aspirations. I have never believed that religious or ethnic differences are the reason for war. Those age-old differences though are used by those who have an interest in stirring up conflict to get that going, and we see that happening everywhere.

Just in conclusion, I would say that, no, it is almost the opposite of what you are saying. I would say that it is a way of getting around that difficulty of the UN not being adequately funded. The Secretary-General should be able to call on that sort of force at a moment's notice and not be begging the United States or France, as it was in Rwanda, to send people there.

Dr SOUTHCOTT —As I remember, the notion of a standing army was around during the League of Nations and they never had one. But in terms of collective security under the League of Nations—

Ms Picone —That is right. It has been around for a long time. I am certainly not saying it is a new idea and I want to stress that is not an idea that is universally acceptable within our own organisation. Again, I think it is something that could be usefully debated.

ACTING CHAIR —Are there any last issues you wish to leave with us?

Ms Picone —No, I cannot recall anything. Thank you for your questions.

ACTING CHAIR —Thank you very much for appearing before us today and for your evidence.

Ms Picone —Thank you for your work, too.

Proceedings suspended from 10.52 a.m. to 11.02 a.m.