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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2015 Week 09 Hansard (Wednesday, 12 August 2015) . . Page.. 2734 ..


In this sitting fortnight we have had a statement from the Chief Minister about the importance of China to the ACT economy, particularly about the importance of the sister city relationship that Canberra and Beijing have. I would like to focus on page 2 of his ministerial statement, where he says:

The three primary objectives of the April mission to Beijing were:

to progress the Canberra-Beijing Sister City relationship;

to encourage cultural, education, business and tourism links …

to encourage and grow the exchange of international students …

On page 3, the Chief Minister goes on to say:

… Madam Speaker, allow me to reinforce the significance of Canberra’s sister city relationship with Beijing and China’s significance to the ACT more broadly.

He goes on to say:

Beijing is China’s global economic hub. As China’s capital city, and with a population exceeding more than 20 million people, it is the nation’s political and educational centre. Beijing’s museums and universities, all with histories dating back millennia, have made Beijing the centre of culture and art in China.

The sister city relationship Canberra shares with Beijing has been a highly collaborative, beneficial and rewarding relationship throughout its 15-year history.

Let me say that again:

The sister city relationship Canberra shares with Beijing has been a highly collaborative, beneficial and rewarding relationship throughout its 15-year history.

For those who do not recall—you were in the building, Madam Speaker, as was Mr Corbell—we had a debate about this issue on 7 September 2000. Yes, the sister city relationship is 15 years old; it was formalised, I believe, on 13 September 2000, so we are coming up to the 15th anniversary. Unfortunately, Madam Speaker, there is a pall cast over the anniversary of this fabulous sister city relationship. First, there is the lingering memory that the Greens voted against it and the Labor Party abstained because they did not believe in such a relationship. Second, more recently, there has been what Ged Kearney—yes, that is ACTU President Ged Kearney—described as a very xenophobic sounding campaign being run by the CFMEU against the Chinese people.

You know you are in trouble when you play the race card. The CFMEU—in trouble on many fronts, whether it be the royal commission that they are facing or other things—decided that the easy way out of this was to go the race card. They attacked


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