Page 1508 - Week 05 - Wednesday, 7 May 2008
all about? Isn’t it about, “We will defend,” as I think it was Voltaire said, “to the death the right of people to express a view, even if we are diametrically opposed to the view being expressed.” All right; we did not like some of the expressions of the Chinese nationalists. We do not have to like them. What we, people committed to human rights, have to do is defend their right to express those views.
I am one of those who believe that there are significant human rights abuses in China and I have put that point of view strongly and often to successive Chinese ambassadors; I have no hesitation in doing it. In all of the speeches I gave over the course of those two to three days, in every single speech I raised issues around concerns of human rights abuses and the need to protect the right to demonstrate and to express a point of view. But we need to be even-handed in our commitment to human rights of all. (Time expired.)
MR SPEAKER: A supplementary question, Dr Foskey.
DR FOSKEY: I thank the Chief Minister for that answer and wonder whether he could advise the Assembly how the total costs for the event panned out and the shares—
DR FOSKEY: Can the Chief Minister advise me of the costs that will be picked up by the commonwealth and the ACT? If it was totally covered yesterday, just refer me to that.
MR STANHOPE: Thank you, Dr Foskey. I will actually provide to your office the speeches I gave over the last two days of the event, to give you some clearer indication of the extent to which I spoke strongly and publicly about human rights abuses and about the right, within a strong democracy such as ours, of each of us to express—and, one would hope, in an uninhibited way—a point of view.
As I said, on this occasion we had a multiplicity of views and we had significant numbers of people all wishing to express their particular view. As an upholder and defender of human rights, it is not for me to say, “I defend the rights of this particular group to express their point of view. Because I do not agree with what you are saying, I will characterise your expression of your view or your behaviour as in some way to be singled out for particular odium.”
I saw, as did everybody who spent the day there, acts that were unacceptable being perpetrated by groups of people supporting Tibet and issues of human rights, just as I did—and there is TV footage—see the behaviour of people from both groups in attendance. They each were expressing points of view.
I would think it is reasonable to suggest that 98 per cent of the Chinese students that were at the relay enjoyed the day. The ones that I was associated with or that I stood beside the road with were friendly, were laughing, were having fun, were young and were expressing their pride in their country. Whether or not we would share that pride, from our particular perspective, is beside the point.