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Monday, 26 March 2018
Page: 2125

Senator CHISHOLM (Queensland) (15:46): I seek leave to make a short statement.

The DEPUTY PRESIDENT: Leave is granted for one minute.

Senator CHISHOLM: Labor have made known our view about the importance of rules based order, and ASEAN's role in providing and fostering such order. Labor has a strong history in leading efforts for peace and democracy in our region—including the role of Gareth Evans as architect of the 1991 Paris peace accords—recognising that any political system must operate with respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms. Labor has routinely expressed concern about the treatment of persecuted minorities in Rakhine state in Myanmar, and the dismantling of independent voices in political opposition in Cambodia. Labor urges the government to continue to voice Australia's concerns about these matters with the governments of these countries.

The opposition notes that defence cooperation in Myanmar focuses on humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, peacekeeping training, English-language training, and officer education and professionalisation. According to the Department of Defence, this engagement provides opportunities for Australia to promote the role of a professional defence force and highlights the importance of adhering to international humanitarian law.