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Tuesday, 26 March 1985
Page: 808


Senator HARRADINE(5.10) —I will be very brief in speaking to the 1983-84 annual report of the Australia-China Council because I notice that there are a number of papers about which honourable senators want to speak, including the paper on Telecom Australia and the Special Broadcasting Service. I spoke on the Australia-China Council report last year. I have recently written to the Minister for Foreign Affairs (Mr Hayden) about the matter on which I spoke last year and I intend to take that matter further along the line. We should not have a kowtowing attitude to China. We should approach it in an intelligent fashion. That entails, where necessary, raising matters of genuine concern. The debate on the report of the Australia-China Council is one opportunity to point out some matters of general concern which could be raised by the Council as well as by government.

I refer to a recently published book, Broken Earth, which was written by Steven Mosher. It was reviewed by Robert C. Morrison, who wrote that it was a compelling study of life in rural China today, where 80 per cent of the people in the People's Republic actually live. He wrote:

Mosher's message is simply this: the image of China's vast peasantry as liberated, well-fed, well-clad, and well-cared for by 'barefoot doctors' is a grotesque lie.

The other night there was an interesting speaker at an Amnesty International function, former Senator John Wheeldon, who, I believe, made the same comment. Mosher also details and exposes the compulsory birth control programs in China. Morrison, in his review, stated:

In a campaign called 'High Tides' which began in 1980 (and which continues today), pregnant peasant women, many in their last stages, are forced to undergo abortions. All over rural China, party leaders called cadres, ordered mothers to report for 'family planning sessions'.

Mosher details substantially the forced 'family planning' activated in China. It is a matter of serious concern, it is a matter of the fundamental rights of the people concerned and it is a matter which the Australia-China Council should refer to as a matter which is disconcerting to the Australian side of the Australia-China Council. Indeed, the Australian Government could exercise some influence in this area. The Executive Secretary of the United Nations Fund for Population Activities visited Canberra in January seeking an increase of $1.125m in the Australian contribution. The Executive Secretary of UNFPA was the subject of successful pressure last year by the United States Government, which sought an assurance that it would not fund abortion or coercive population policies such as exist in China today.

The Australian Development Assistance Bureau-an aid organisation-on 2 October 1984 in a Senate Estimates committee hearing stated that it was unaware of the United States move and it had not sought similar assurances. A large amount of the UNFPA fund goes to China. The UNFPA has now given an assurance on that matter. But the International Planned Parenthood Federation, which also receives Australian funds, has not given a similar assurance. I take this opportunity of suggesting to the Government that it ought to obtain such an assurance from IPPF in order to preserve the fundamental human rights of persons in China as well as anywhere else, particularly the less developed countries.