Page 2835 - Week 09 - Thursday, 27 September 2007

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not know what they are doing today; I have not caught up with the news. I just want to express my concern, and I urge the Australian government and everyone else who has an ability to impact upon the situation to do what they can. I am aware that Amnesty International is having a vigil outside the Burmese embassy at the moment. Clearly, I am not able to be there.

Mr Mulcahy: That is an enlightening piece of information.

DR FOSKEY: Yes; I thought you would appreciate that. All members will have in their mailboxes a notice that on Sunday, 30 September—although it says Sunday, 1 October—there is a prayer vigil at the Buddhist Monastery in Lyneham. All these efforts, of course, are well meaning and they may have an impact, but this is one case where it is up to the governments of the world to act. We all know that the government that would probably have the most influence upon the situation is the Chinese government. However, that is not a government over which we have any power or persuasion, so the government that we have to work with is the Australian government.

As someone who was involved in human rights dialogues with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, including the Minister for Foreign Affairs, over many years before I was elected to this place, I am aware that the Australian government engages with Burma in relation to human rights in what they call “constructive dialogue”. We were never ever able to see any results or any impacts on the regime of this so-called constructive dialogue, and I am also aware that many well-meaning people participated in human rights education of the military regime which, of course, had no interest in human rights at all.

I count among my friends many people in the expatriate Burmese community here. I know that the reason they live here is because they cannot safely live in their own country. I would urge our Minister for Foreign Affairs to use much stronger language than he has used until now. I have observed a ratcheting up of the Prime Minister’s statements on this issue, and this is one situation where I believe he could follow George Bush more closely. We have not had trade sanctions in Burma. Actually, I think the situation is well past that.

I do not know how the United Nations Security Council has voted, but if ever there were a case for UN peacekeeping forces to enter a country, this is it. Some of the monks who have taken to the streets have already been killed. This is a situation where they are just saying, “We are going for it.” The difference between this situation and 1988, when we saw the violent deposition of the democratically elected government, is that this time the whole world is watching. Because we can see it, it is incumbent upon us to act. We cannot see these things and turn away.

Industrial relations

MR MULCAHY (Molonglo) (6.05): I want to use my time in today’s adjournment debate to talk about a threat to Australian and Canberran society that has the possibility of becoming a reality: the reunionisation of Australia being attempted by the Labor Party. This is not an overt attempted takeover but is happening by stealth

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