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Monday, 25 May 2009
Page: 4215

Ms PARKE (6:53 PM) —As a former United Nations peacekeeper and as the Chair of the Australia-UN Parliamentary Group, I am moved to note that 29 May is the International Day of United Nations Peacekeepers. UN peacekeepers, who currently number around 110,000, include military personnel contributed by UN member states as well as civilians. They are engaged not only in maintaining peace and security but also in building the political, social and economic infrastructure required to ensure that conflict zones can make the lasting transition to peace. Australia has been a strong supporter of UN peacekeeping operations since the first mission in 1947 and is one of the top 20 contributors to the UN peacekeeping budget. Last month Australia’s contribution to UN peacekeeping was recognised with an exhibition at the UN headquarters in New York entitled ‘Australian peacekeepers at the United Nations’. It is worth reflecting on the fact that the UN’s total peacekeeping budget is US$6.8 billion, or half of one per cent of global military spending, leading one to the undeniable conclusion that building and keeping the peace is overwhelmingly cheaper than the pursuit of war. I want to pay tribute to all UN peacekeepers, some of whom, like my friend Jean-Selim Kanaan, to whom I referred in my first speech, have tragically been killed in UN peace operations, while others continue to put their lives at risk in the hope of a better world. I know that members join with me in recognising the importance of peacekeeping and the International Day of United Nations Peacekeepers.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER (Hon. AR Bevis)—Order! It being nearly 6.55 pm, in accordance with standing order 192A the time for members’ statements has concluded.