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Thursday, 5 December 2002
Page: 7299

Senator NETTLE (4:08 PM) —In rising to speak to this urgency motion, I note the comments that have already been made about the Prime Minister's inflammatory comments on Sunday. Rather than just doing as he has done so far and supporting George Bush's and the United States' pre-emptive doctrine, John Howard did not think that was good enough. He wanted to go further and put in place his own pre-emptive doctrine for Australia to follow when it comes to international relations. We have heard from other speakers about the nature in which this was so irresponsible. It was irresponsible in an international context because the international community is currently trying to come together and resolve conflict in Iraq, at this stage through non-violent means, and to do so through the United Nations and through the weapons inspection program. The government have articulated that they are supporting that position—being involved in trying to resolve that conflict through the United Nations, through diplomatic means rather than through a military strike on Iraq—while at the same time pledging their wholehearted support to any unilateral military action that the United States may choose to launch on Iraq.

We have seen the impact that these comments have had on our neighbours—and we have heard others quote people around this region—and the damage it is having on the ability of the Australian government to indeed work with those governments to ensure that we reduce the likelihood of terrorist events occurring in our region. We have heard about the memorandums of understanding that the Thai government are currently talking of breaking off. We have heard about other cooperative measures—ways we could work together with our neighbours to reduce the likelihood of terrorism occurring. We have heard about the governments in our region who are pulling out of those arrangements because of these inflammatory and irresponsible comments made by the Prime Minister.

Let us look at what we should be doing. We should be addressing the root causes of terrorism—the poverty and the inequality in our region that lead to terrorist events occurring. We need to be doing that by looking at our aid programs, looking at whether we are, in fact, supporting community development programs, conflict resolution in our region and programs that support and celebrate a diversity of communities—multiracial and multifaith communities living together in a tolerant and a cohesive society. This is the constructive role that the Australian government could be and should be playing in our region to ensure that we reduce terrorism. (Time expired)