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Monday, 17 August 2009
Page: 5018


Senator LUDWIG (Special Minister of State and Cabinet Secretary) (3:42 PM) —by leave—The Australian government again records its objection to dealing with complex international matters, such as the one before us, by means of formal motions. We recognise that issues involving different ethnic groups can be sensitive no matter what country is concerned. These are not matters which can be dealt with in a simplistic or judgmental manner and we do not want our actions to aggravate ethnic tensions in the region. Successive Australian governments have consistently adhered to a ‘one China’ policy. We recognise China’s sovereignty over the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region and China’s territorial integrity. We do not agree with proponents of self-determination.

Recent violence in the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region is concerning. On 7 July Foreign Minister Smith said that the Australian government was concerned by reports of violence in the Xinjiang and was very concerned about the tragic loss of life. Australia was encouraged by the fact that China allowed diplomats and foreign journalists to have access to the Xinjiang immediately after the 5 July riots. On 30 July, Foreign Minister Smith called on China to conduct an investigation into the base causes of the violence.

I would like to take this opportunity to make some remarks with respect to the visit to Australia by Rebiya Kadeer. The government has no evidence of information that Kadeer is a terrorist. It was a private visit. Ms Kadeer was not met by any government ministers, just as she has not been met by ministers in the past. She is perfectly entitled to put her point of view but that does not mean necessarily that the Australian government or the Australian people believe or support any or all of it. For the reasons I have outlined the government does not support the motion before the Senate today.