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Wednesday, 29 April 1987
Page: 2234

Mr HOLLIS(7.50) —I join the honourable member for Farrer (Mr Tim Fischer) in welcoming the welcome home march for the Vietnam veterans which is to be held later this year. Whatever one may have personally thought about the war in Vietnam-there are a lot of conflicting views on that-I do not think there is any doubt that those Australian soldiers who went there were brave and gallant and performed their duties.

Madam Speaker, you should be well aware that Sri Lanka has been somewhat of a popular topic in this chamber this evening. I am very pleased because I often speak on the problems in Sri Lanka. I am pleased that this evening so many of my colleagues have joined in the debate concerning that troubled country. I have no reason to doubt the sincerity of the honourable member for Kalgoorlie (Mr Campbell) and the honourable member for Franklin (Mr Goodluck). I have been very involved with the Sri Lankan question now for four or five years. As most people know, I have spoken on it many times in this House. If they took the trouble to study some of the literature about that country they would not jump to conclusions. I, like all other members of parliament over the last two weeks, have received many documents in my office from the Sri Lankan High Commission and various groups such as the Queensland Association for Sri Lankan Unity putting their cause. I am afraid that my colleague the honourable member for Kalgoorlie and my good friend the honourable member for Franklin have this evening repeated some of the things that came from the Sri Lankan High Commission.

In this chamber I have never supported violence. I have not said that the Sri Lankan Government placed bombs on the plane and I did not say that the Sri Lankan Government was responsible for the latest outrage in Colombo. I raised several questions concerning these matters. Last night I asked who placed the bomb at the bus terminal in Colombo. As the honourable member for Makin (Mr Duncan) said, the Tamil groups have not claimed responsibility for that; they have denied it. Why would they engage in that senseless act of violence when they, above all other people, knew that they would suffer most?

I was interested in what the honourable member for Kalgoorlie said about deporting or sending back any Tamil who sends money to Sri Lanka. I hope the same applies to the Sinhalese people from that country who are here. I understand that a bank account at the Manuka branch of the ANZ Bank in the Australian Capital Territory is still in operation. Sinhalese people are being asked to contribute to that bank account, and that money is going back to Sri Lanka. As the honourable member for Kalgoorlie always tells us how even-handed he is, he would have to support sending the Sinhalese back as well. I also join the High Commissioner for Sri Lanka and the honourable member for Kalgoorlie in making a plea that people should leave at home the problems that they have in their countries. I agree with that, but while many Sinhalese people, especially those in the Queensland Association for Sri Lankan Unity-a misnamed group if I ever heard one-promote and propagate their hatred of the Tamil people they certainly are not leaving their problems at home.

The problem in Sri Lanka is very complex. There is no easy solution. One thing that is sure is that the solution is not a military one; it must be a political one. Proposals have been put for settlement, and I welcome them. One thing that we must ensure is that all people in that land are given the opportunity to live in peace and harmony. Unfortunately, given the attitude of the present Government there, the Tamil people cannot expect that. That has been one of the problems. People talk about terrorism and violence, but not about state violence. The government in any state has the instruments of violence and it is the Government of Sri Lanka, through its security forces and through its discrimination against the Tamil people, which has led to the unhappy situation that that country is now experiencing. I hope that my colleagues will continue this sudden-found interest in Sri Lanka.

Madam SPEAKER —Order! The honourable member's time has expired.