Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
 Download Current HansardDownload Current Hansard    View Or Save XMLView/Save XML

Previous Fragment    Next Fragment
Thursday, 13 August 2009
Page: 7881

Mr DANBY (9:51 AM) —We are all Melburnian, the New Yorker magazine argued last week when discussing the 80,000 hacking attacks from China on the Melbourne International Film Festival screening of Australian director Jeff Daniels’s documentary 10 Conditions of Love about the exiled Uighur activist Rebiya Kadeer. The reaction of Melburnians to this hack attack and to the Chinese consulate’s attempt to close down the Melbourne film festival was to decide that the audience in the Greater Union theatre was too small, with 800 people. No, film-goers would not appease this bullying. As a result, Melbourne Town Hall was booked, where I had the honour of introducing Rebiya Kadeer and where she spoke to more than 2,000 people. So the love of free speech and the love of film are very strong in Melbourne.

It is very interesting that one of the premier international film critics, Mr Richard Brody of the New Yorker, surmised that this hack attack was the tacit work of the Chinese government. Brody argued that film festivals around the world should not stand for Beijing’s attempts at censorship. That was the implication of this headline ‘We are all Melburnian’, just as it was with the famous headline in Le Monde after the attacks of September 11, ‘We are all Americans’. Mr Brody said:

10 Conditions of Love … should be instantly programmed for all upcoming film festivals; I’d like to see it included in the Toronto International Film Festival … in its important documentary section; in the New York Film Festival, coming in October; in Venice, Sundance, Berlin, Rotterdam, Cannes—all the festivals that matter in the industry should show Daniels’s film. Festival directors would thereby affirm their solidarity with the Melbourne Festival and its courageous director, Richard Moore, against government pressure.

When Rebiya Kadeer spoke at the National Press Club the Chinese embassy tried to get the Press Club to deny her a platform. Most Australians would have resented the hysterical attacks on Australia and the admission of this non-violent Uighur activist to Australia in the Chinese People’s Daily as yesterday’s Canberra Times reported. I had the honour of being singled out by this kind of prejudice, along with Senator Barnaby Joyce, in another propaganda rag called the Global Times, which comes out of Beijing.

China’s attempts to muzzle the Uighur activist Rebiya Kadeer during her current Australian visit are, as the Canberra Times noted, hypocrisy. China does not want people to interfere in their affairs but is willing to interfere in ours. On such occasions Australia should firmly and politely remind the Chinese government that freedom of speech and association is an inviolable part of this country’s political fabric. That is what the Australian government has been doing. We are going to keep our nerve with all of these national security issues, keep good relations with China and keep freedom of speech in Australia.