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FOREIGN AFFAIRS—EGYPT—AUSTRALIAN JOURNALIST MR AUSTIN MACKELL

Senator Rhiannon amended general business notice of motion no. 709 by leave and, pursuant to notice of motion not objected to as a formal motion, moved—That the Senate—

 (a) notes that:

  (i) Australian journalist, Austin Mackell, his translator Ailya Alwi, post-graduate student Derek Ludovici and taxi driver Zakaria Ahmad were arrested in Mahalla al-Kubra, Egypt, on 11 February 2012, where Mr Mackell was due to interview labour organiser Kamal Elfayoumi,

  (ii) while Mr Mackell has been released he is still under investigation for allegedly instigating vandalism, causing unrest and providing funds to demonstrators,

  (iii) the Australian Embassy in Cairo is pressing Egyptian authorities to ascertain the legal status of Mr Mackell, including travel limitations, while the investigation continues, and

  (iv) a free and independent media will play a critical role in the development of a democratic Egypt; and

 (b) calls on the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Senator Bob Carr, to urge the Egyptian authorities to diligently pursue their investigations in a timely manner and to ensure that fair and due process is accorded Mr Mackell in any legal proceedings, should charges be laid, and that all travel restrictions are lifted.

Question put and passed.


Statement by leave: Senator Rhiannon, by leave, made a statement relating to the motion.