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Wednesday, 17 November 2010
Page: 1510

Senator LUDLAM (5:22 PM) —I seek leave to make a short statement.

The DEPUTY PRESIDENT —Leave is granted for two minutes.

Senator LUDLAM —This is a foreign policy motion where I do not believe we will be hearing either from the government side or from the opposition side that we do not debate complex foreign policy matters during discovery of formal business. I thank the Foreign Minister and his staff for the way in which they engaged with this issue and also the shadow foreign minister’s office as well.

This motion welcomes the release of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi from house arrest on behalf of the Australian people. I believe that I would speak for everyone in this parliament in celebrating that fact. This is about an extraordinary pro-democracy campaigner who has been under house arrest for a combined total of 15 years. I greatly appreciate that the Senate has seen fit to pass this motion unanimously on behalf of the Australian people and I draw senators’ attention to two of the clauses in the motion which recognises how far the Australian government has come in the last 12 months or so. We are now on board to, as the wording says:

(ii) investigate all options for progressing a United Nations commission of inquiry into human rights abuses and war crimes in Burma,

This is a very important recognition that, as pro-democracy campaigners in Burma have said, the election changes nothing. It does not even deserve the term ‘election’. The very same people at senior levels of the military and judiciary should indeed face war crimes and crimes against humanity charges in international courts. It is greatly appreciated that the Australian government is on board with this call. We very much look forward to them actually doing something in pursuit of these avenues to prosecute these horrendous crimes against the people of an entire nation. Item (e)(iv) of the motion says that the Senate:

(iv) maintain efforts to enforce a universal arms embargo against Burma ...

One of our most important trading partners, China, welcomed the election as progress for democracy in China, and it is one of the largest arms dealers into Burma in direct support of the regime. Australia should be doing more to persuade China on the universal arms embargo matter.

The DEPUTY PRESIDENT —I am not sure that it is unanimously passed yet, Senator Ludlam, but we will give it a try.

Question agreed to.