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Thursday, 29 May 1997
Page: 3966


Senator BOURNE(11.52 a.m.) —by leave—I do not want to speak for very long, but I must say that this is a motion which is important. As Senator Harradine said to us yesterday, the human rights subcommittee of this parliament met with the Ogoni representatives when they came here. The situation in Nigeria is, as we have heard before, absolutely appalling. There is not a reasonable or democratic government. Saying that one should emerge is a good point but, generally, democratic governments need a bit of impetus to emerge, they need a bit of pushing. These are very sensible ways to try to push the Nigerian government into becoming a reasonable and proper government for that country.

If they cannot get their act together, they should not be in the Commonwealth. It is very, very important that we do all we can, that this government really starts to improve its human rights record, really starts to push human rights as a basic part of our foreign policy, something which is not happening at the moment and something which is desperately needed. We need to provide leadership. We have done it in the past. We are not doing it now, and this is a very good way to start. Of course we support that motion and, if I had been in the chamber, we would have voted for it.