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Smooth arrival for Olympic torch in Canberra -

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Smooth arrival for Olympic torch in Canberra

The World Today - Wednesday, 23 April , 2008 12:38:00

Reporter: Karen Barlow

LISA MILLAR: After all the talk and protests, the Olympic Flame has arrived in Canberra for its
only Australian appearance.

Amid tight security and with no public audience, a Chinese jet carrying the Olympic symbol landed
this morning at a RAAF base where it was welcomed by officials and Aboriginal elders.

More than 20 of those controversial tracksuit wearing Chinese torch attendants were part of the
official party. Two happily posed for media photographs with the lantern on the tarmac.

While the ceremony went off without a hitch, China's human rights record was never far from
people's minds.

Karen Barlow was at the Flame's arrival for The World Today.

KAREN BARLOW: The specially painted Beijing Olympic Games jet touched down at Canberra's RAAF base
this morning.

Potential protesters and the general public were kept well away as Federal Police officers roamed
the area.

It was another 20 minutes before the flame was walked down the stairs and officially welcomed by
local Ngunnawal elder Aunty Agnes Shea.

AUNTY AGNES SHEA: In the words of the Ngunnawal people (speech in Ngunnawal language).

Which means you may leave your footprints on our land now. Or, in other words, welcome to Ngunnawal
country. Thank you.

KAREN BARLOW: The official guests included the Chinese Ambassador Zhang Junsai, the federal Sports
Minister, Kate Ellis and the President of the Australian Olympic Committee, John Coates.

JOHN COATES: The Flame and torch, like the Olympics, themselves evoke symbolism and proud memories.
We remember the deeds of Australia's first Olympic hero, Edwin Flack, and those since. We remember
also with great pride that twice the games have come to Australia.

KAREN BARLOW: The ACT chief minister Jon Stanhope raised the vexed issue of human rights.

JON STANHOPE: Participation in this relay is important and it is important for those who care about
human rights, as well as those who care about the ideals of sport. Participation is a way of
allowing our differences a clear and clarient voice, even as we celebrate our similarities and our
share humanity, in a robust and mature democracy such as ours, there is no particular danger in
mixed messages.

KAREN BARLOW: China's human rights record is what led to social campaigner Lin Hatfield Dodds
pulling out of her duties as torch bearer, but The World Today understands that no further torch
bearers have pulled out of running in the event.

Of course, the flame has its attendants: there are more than 20 of the blue tracksuit wearing
paramilitary trained Chinese guards.

Two were with the flame at all times. Others carried mysterious black boxes.

There is still some residual concern over their role. As of this morning, the Prime Minister, the
Chinese Ambassador and the IOC say there have no security role whatsoever.

This is despite the Ambassador Zhang Junsai saying on Channel Nine last night that if the flame was
attacked, the attendants would use their bodies to stop it from going out.

Today IOC member Kevan Gosper says the Chinese have no security role.

KEVAN GOSPER: Let me emphasis that any security matter rests with this country. And that's been
made very clear.

KAREN BARLOW: So they will be getting in and out of the bus?

KEVAN GOSPER: I don't know, I don't know. I thought I gave you a very clear answer on that.

KAREN BARLOW: Australian IOC member, Phil Coles, is hoping all goes well with the torch relay in
Canberra, but says the pro-Tibetan protests mean that the event will never be the same again.

PHIL COLES: I just don't see where they could be to demonise the Olympic torch for what it stands
for too, you know.

KAREN BARLOW: Do you think this has damaged the Olympic movement?

PHIL COLES: I don't think it's damaged the Olympic movement. I think it's damaged the flame.

KAREN BARLOW: Damaged the flame?

PHIL COLES: What it means, what we, what we hope it means. To some people it doesn't mean that, I
suppose.

KAREN BARLOW: Local Aboriginal elder, Bunja Smith, supports the torch relay and the Olympics, but
says there is wider Aboriginal sympathy for the pro-Tibetan movement.

BUNJA SMITH: We can't give someone human rights by taking away someone else's human rights, we have
a right to choice. And I support the Tibetan people with their protest. I ask that they keep it
protesting and not violent and at the same time we welcome the torch to Canberra.

KAREN BARLOW: The Chair of the Canberra torch relay task force, Ted Quinlan, says he is happy with
the smooth start to the Australian leg of the relay and foresees no late changes to the relay
route.

LISA MILLAR: Karen Barlow in Canberra.