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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 6 Hansard (14 May) . . Page.. 1559..


MS TUCKER: I have a supplementary question. Thanks, Chief Minister, for the long response. I am very interested in the fact that you have raised the question of the Falun Gong. I am also interested to know whether you have discussed with them the question of the right of citizens of Canberra to go to the Olympics from Canberra-whether they would be able to go and be a spectator or even participate in the Olympics if they practised Falun Gong. It seems that would be a fairly basic and accepted principle of the Olympics. I understand you cannot take on the whole Chinese government; I am just wondering if you have discussed it.

MR STANHOPE: No, I did not discuss that issue, Ms Tucker. I have not received representations on that issue. As with all representations that I receive on an issue, I am always more than happy to make those representations myself. If there are residents of Canberra who have a concern about their rights, I would not hesitate to make representations on their behalf or to pursue issues that they raise. Of course , I will be pleased to do that.

But it does need to be understood-and you acknowledged the point, Ms Tucker-that we do not have a foreign affairs capacity; we have a sister city relationship with Beijing.

Ms Tucker: And we supported the Olympic bid.

MR STANHOPE: We certainly supported the Olympic bid. I am glad that we did; it was a very good thing for us to do. It is a very good thing that China will be staging the Olympics in 2008, for a whole range of reasons. I believe that it is through staging events such as the Olympics that a greater impact on human rights issues than I could imagine will be achieved. That is the point I was making. It is through exposure, through an opening of the windows to the world, that one hopes that advances will be made in China and, indeed, in all nations around the world where human rights are perhaps observed in the breach.

I want to make it clear that I acknowledge the issues that China faces. They have a population of 1.3 billion. In the day-to-day administration of that nation they face issues that are completely beyond our ken or imagination. It is frightening to think of the issues they face in a nation such as that. It is impossible for us to simply transport, from here to there, how we do things, how we think and how we would like things to be. You need to acknowledge that and be aware of that. Human rights are inalienable, and we should not downgrade them in any way. But you cannot just transport a view from here and think that it is applicable there. The circumstances are just too different.

I have major concerns about the way our federal government dealt with Falun Gong practitioners peacefully demonstrating in the ACT, and I have explained my position in relation to that, a position that the Chinese ambassador and the Chinese government were not particularly comforted by. But I leave it to our federal government to pursue some of those other issues, Ms Tucker.

Road safety

MR CORNWELL: My question is to the Minister for Urban Services, Mr Wood. On 27 April, the Canberra Times reported the latest statistics from the Australian Transport Safety Bureau on road safety. The figures, which were from 1999, showed that the ACT


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