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Monday, 11 May 1987
Page: 2963

Mr HOLLIS(10.50) —I would like to join my colleague the honourable member for Hughes (Mr Tickner) in recommending the Loftus Tramway Museum to members of this House. An interesting fact about that museum, which I know quite well, is that the tram that used to take prisoners to Long Bay Prison is there, although for obvious reasons it is not now used.

The point I want to mention tonight is that, when honourable members raise questions in this chamber about certain groups, those groups usually try to discredit the member. Such a group is the Queensland Association for Sri Lanka Unity, which has produced yet another booklet in which I feature quite prominently. I wonder why it is that everyone is wrong, yet this group, which will not even identify its members, is correct. In criticising the Sri Lankan Government, I join a distinguished group which includes Law Asia, Amnesty International and the United Nations Commission on Human Rights.

I do not mind criticism of me. What I object to is the selective quoting of my speeches and sloppy research. As members of this group are associated with Griffith University, and in the past have used its postal facilities, I would have thought they could have got their research correct. Let me give just a few examples. They quote from a speech in which I mentioned receiving anonymous telephone calls-I am not the only person who has received such calls-and they add `which unfortunately the police have not been able to trace'. But I never mentioned the police in my speech. They talk about an index and say that they are not aware of the index. Well, I cannot answer for their stupidity if they cannot use an index. They claim that I said that the Sri Lankan Government placed a bomb on an Air Lankan jet. That is simply not true. I raised questions not only about the bombing of the Sri Lankan jet but also about the recent bombing outrage at a bus station in Colombo. I repeat that there are questions about these events which have not been answered.

Recently I received correspondence from an affiliated organisation in Sydney which claims that I have links with terrorists. I believe that this is a matter of privilege, but I will pursue the matter through the courts. I will not repeat the arguments that I have put before the House on many occasions, but I recommend that honourable members read an article on page 6 of last Thursday's Canberra Times which looks at parallel cases between the French Canadians and the Tamils-parallel cases with very different outcomes. The potential for catastrophe was present in both countries 20 years ago, but in Sri Lanka it happened whereas in Canada it did not. Although we tend to regard everything that has already happened as inevitable, it is not. Canada went one way and Sri Lanka went another, because of the choices their people made. The real issue in both countries back in the 1960s was the rights of a minority group. In both cases the minority population is geographically concentrated and comprises a large majority in its own area. The ethnic tensions in both Canada and Sri Lanka were rising 20 years ago, and yet the outcomes have been entirely different. Alas, the situation in Sri Lanka is quite different. The Sinhalese represent a large majority of the island's population, but they behave with the unyielding defensiveness of a threatened minority. Perhaps even now it is not too late to seek a political solution.

In the minute or so that is left to me, I would like to take up a couple of points that the honourable member for Mallee (Mr Peter Fisher) raised when he seemed to be accusing the Australian Government of somehow being responsible for the unfortunate result in the South African election last week. What utter rubbish! The result of the South African election, which was a tragedy, shows that the South Africans are moving further and further into their bunker and are not prepared to talk or to allow even a gradual form of progress towards an accommodation of the majority population in that country. Of course that will bring tensions into that country. The honourable member criticised the African National Congress, which has peacefully tried for years and years to have dialogue with the South African Government. Who can blame the ANC if tensions arise and violence is the result. I think that violence will be the result of that election result in South Africa last week. The white South Africans will have only their stupidity and intransigence to blame.