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Tuesday, 19 June 2012
Page: 7101


Mr CRAIG KELLY (Hughes) (16:18): Every year on 14 June Baltic communities all over the world commemorate the mass deportations from their homelands by Stalin's Soviet communist forces to Soviet gulags during and after World War II. Last Sunday, I was privileged to attend the commemoration concert at the Latvian theatre in Strathfield to mark the 71st anniversary of the first of the mass deportations. I was pleased to be in attendance with Mr Craig Laundy, the Liberal candidate for the seat of Reid. I note he was very well received by those in attendance following his very impressive speech. The history of the mass deportations of the Baltic communities from their homelands by Stalin's Soviet Union is well documented. During the years of the Soviet communist occupation of the Baltic states, executions and mass deportations were common as the Soviet occupiers sort to strangle the brave people into submission. More than 200,000 people were deported from their homeland to remote, inhospitable arctic regions of the Soviet Union. In total, 10 per cent of the entire adult Baltic population was deported or sent to labour camps.

The commemoration of these events that occurred under Stalin's communist regime is of the utmost importance, for it is often said that those who fail from history are doomed to repeat it. This is why the supreme commander of the allied forces, General Eisenhower, when he came across the death camps at the end of World War II said:

Get it all on record now. Get the films. Get the witnesses, because somewhere down the road of history some bastard will get up and say this never happened.

It is worth noting what this government is doing to help maintain the history and the memory of those who suffered these unspeakable hardships and deaths, so that down the road of history some bastard will never get up and say, 'This never happened.'

Amongst the $176 billion of combined deficits this government has run up in just four years, they have managed to find a lazy $180,000 to finance a study titled, 'Rethinking the History of Soviet Stalinism.' In the government's own words, 'This study is to provide a sophisticated understanding of the complexities of Stalin's Russia.'

This Labor government's active use of taxpayers' funds to conduct a study to rethink the history of Soviet Stalinism is an affront to Australians of Baltic heritage. However, this type of conduct is something that Labor governments have form with, for it was under the Labor government in July 1974 that Australia shamefully and embarrassingly became the only Western country to recognise the Soviet annexation of Estonia and other Baltic states. It took the election of a coalition government in 1975 for Australian to rightly repudiate this shameful period of our history. We should never forget the horrors that happened to the people of the Baltic states, the mass deportations. It should be something that is part of our curriculum in schools for children to learn from.