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Thursday, 24 March 1994
Page: 2226


Senator HARRADINE (3.42 p.m.) —I move:

  That the Senate take note of the further answer given by the Minister for Foreign Affairs (Senator Gareth Evans), to a question without notice asked by Senator Harradine this day, relating to population growth and development.

Senator Gareth Evans, the Leader of the Government in the Senate, has exposed his weakness. I believe we saw it for the first time when, in a display of intellectual honesty with respect to the question of population growth and development, Senator Evans was exposed today as being dishonest. I do not want to use that word pejoratively, but he has certainly been dreadfully incorrect in a most important area: the gross and continuous violations of human rights that occur as a result of target driven, vicious population programs imposed upon the people of a number of countries, including China and Vietnam—which programs we are funding—India and Indonesia.

  Here we have a minister who said to us late last year that, yes, he was most concerned about the violations of human rights, yes, he was most concerned about the question of coercion in population programs and, yes, he agreed with me that this was a key issue. Today I asked Senator Evans why the person who had been appointed and contracted by the government to look into the population programs and their violation of human rights was not an expert in that area. She has never written anything on the violations of human rights, such as coerced abortions and sterilisations and the demeaning and degradation of women in a number of countries. Nothing has been written by the person that has been contracted to do that job—Karen Oppenheim Mason. Senator Evans got up and said that one of the key questions of population issues is the question of coercion. He said:

But my understanding of Ms Oppenheim is that she is an internationally regarded expert in that area.

He does not know much, does he? The person concerned is not Ms Oppenheim; her name is Ms Oppenheim Mason. Her name is Mason, not Oppenheim.

  He had the gall to get up here and say that he knows this person is an internationally regarded expert in that area when he does not even know her name. He has not even had a look, as I have, at what she has written or what other people who have been contracted to do this job for Minister Bilney have written. I have read what they have written and most if not all of them have public positions which need defending—public positions in support of the population programs of the type that AIDAB supports.

  Senator Evans did not answer my question about why all of those thousands of dollars are to be spent on bringing this circus out to Australia, and why they have been contracted to speak to anyone in Australia as arranged by Minister Bilney. This is a circus. This is just a propaganda exercise by Mr Bilney to prop up his fivefold increase in population programs, at a time when the government said it was all about deficit reduction strategies.

  Question resolved in the affirmative.