Territory Stories

Debates Day 1 - Tuesday 25 February 1992



Debates Day 1 - Tuesday 25 February 1992

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Parliamentary Record 8


Debates for 6th Assembly 1990 - 1994; ParliamentNT; Parliamentary Record; 6th Assembly 1990 - 1994




Made available by the Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory





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Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory

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Attribution International 4.0 (CC BY 4.0)

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Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory



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DEBATES - Tuesday 25 February 1992 Realistically, practically and sensibly, they are there because they could not be anywhere else. They must be there. East Timor will never stand alone again. It cannot expect to stand alone again because, if it attempted to, it would be invaded again tomorrow. Mr BELL (MacDonnell): Mr Speaker, 1992 is a year of anniversaries. There has been reference already in this debate to the recent 50th Anniversary of the Battle of Australia. It is also the 500th anniversary of the sailing of Christopher Columbus. I guess that 1^92 is not a bad date to put as the commencement of European colonialism. This is a vital piece of historical background in an understanding not only of this country but also of Indonesia and, of course. East Timor. The Leader of the Opposition made some very pertinent comments when he referred to the support, particularly from the Australian trade unions, to the emerging leadership in Indonesia between 19^5 and 19^9 As a student at school, I recall studying European colonisation and the emergence of nationalism. It is necessary to have that broad view of the development of modern Indonesia as well as an understanding of the development of our own country, and that of East Timor, to appreciate the forces at work. As the Deputy Leader of the Opposition said, it is also important to bear in mind that many East Timorese people provided gallant assistance and gave their lives in support of Australian commando forces in East Timor during World War II. It is a very difficult situation that we find ourselves in. With those comments, I am doing no more than reiterating what has been said already by opposition speakers, but I did want to corroborate their comments. I support the development of an ongoing dynamic relationship with the Indonesian nation and I believe that it is important for us to maintain a constructive relationship in that regard. I want to raise an issue which has not been referred to in the context of this statement. I refer to the comments made by the Chief Minister when he stated that he was prepared to recognise the exigencies of cultural pluralism. He said he believed that it was important to recognise that a country like Indonesia has a trading, political and religious history that is different from our own. He went on to say: Most people know little about the trading, political or religious history of the 13 000 islands which make up Indonesia today or of the problems faced by government when attempting to improve the standard of living of 180 million people, most of whom are incredibly poor by Australian standards. He went on to refer to difficulties with schooling, medical supplies, doctors, school places, the low life expectancy for males, the survival rate for 1-year-olds being 7 times worse than it is in Australia etc. I want to make 1 simple point in that regard. If the Chief Minister wants to argue that this country should take a culturally pluralist view of our relationship with Indonesia, I suggest that he extend that same attitude to the Aboriginal people of the Northern Territory and of this country. I heartily endorse the approach that it is not necessarily reasonable to apply western liberal standards to our relationship with countries that have an entirely different history. I could talk about that theme at some length, but I broadly support the approach that the values and attitudes of our liberal democracy, which is very much a product of our cultural history, are not necessarily universal human standards. I do not propose to talk about this issue at length today. 3616

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