Wollongong defects [to France]asIraq protest

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Posted by andreas from dtm2-t7-1.mcbone.net ( on Thursday, March 13, 2003 at 1:50PM :

21:36 AEST Tue 11 Mar 2003

[Aussi] Wollongong defects as Iraq protest

The NSW coastal city of Wollongong has staged a moral defection to France,
inspiring other cities around Australia and the United States to consider
similar pleas for peace.

City, state and federal representatives of the Illawarra region visited
French Consul General Marc Finaud to deliver a clear message: "The
Australian government won't represent our views on Iraq, so we want you

The delegation's convener, South Coast Labour Council secretary Arthur
Rorris, said Wollongong's unusual appeal to France had attracted attention
from unexpected quarters.

"From what we're told around the place there might be a few more doing the
same," Mr Rorris told Mr Finaud.

"We've heard from Newcastle, cities and organisations in Victoria, South
Australia, even Washington and New York."

Federal Greens MP Michael Organ, NSW parliamentary secretary for Aboriginal
Affairs Colin Markham and Wollongong city councillor Vicky King joined
other Wollongong citizens to ask that France represent Wollongong and
exercise its United Nations Security Council veto against military action
in Iraq.

"The Labor Party, The Greens, The Democrats are all very frustrated that
the Howard government is taking it down this path and refuses to debate it
publicly in the house," Mr Organ said.

"We're here to represent the view of the community of the Illawarra ... to
reinforce the fact that there are a lot of people in Australia opposed to
this war."

The delegation presented Mr Finaud with a resolution unanimously passed by
the Wollongong City Council calling on Prime Minister John Howard to "pull
back from the brink of war".

If the Howard government would not represent them, Mr Rorris said, the
people of Wollongong hoped France would.

While Mr Finaud said he would not publicly criticise the Australian
government, he promised to pass Wollongong's message to French President
Jacques Chirac.

"We have made our views clear, in particular to the foreign minister
(Alexander Downer) when he was in Paris recently," he said.

"We have tried to explain to our Australian friends that although we have
this major difference, this should not stand in the way of our friendly

Many other Australians had written to him to express support for France's
opposition to military action in Iraq, Mr Finaud added.

-- andreas
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