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Wednesday, 27 November 1996
Page: 6078

Senator BROWN(9.39 a.m.) —by leave—Of course the government is embarrassed by this motion because Senator Hill, speaking on behalf of Prime Minister Howard, made it clear in the Senate earlier that the Prime Minister would not be bringing up the issue of human rights—and, in particular, the aspiration for freedom of the people of Tibet—in meeting the Chinese authorities in the Philippines. What an extraordinary derogation of the obligation we all have to speak up for human rights when the opportunity arises.

One senator has spoken to me about the use of the word `applauds' in the motion as far as the American President is concerned. No doubt the softly approach has been used. But at least a start was made by President Clinton. At least President Clinton had the gumption to bring up the issue of human rights with the Chinese leader. At least President Clinton recognised that there is more to this world than just trade and economic advantage. At least President Clinton was prepared, when he spoke to me after the joint sitting last week, to give a commitment that he would bring up—

Government senators interjecting

Senator BROWN —You might be embarrassed by this, but President Clinton made a clear commitment to me, in the presence of the Prime Minister, that he would bring up the issue of Tibet with the Chinese President Jiang. That is something that Prime Minister Howard did not have the gumption to do. It is embarrassing that Australia's leaders are so weak-kneed when it comes to the requirement and obligation they have on their shoulders to speak up for human rights, for freedom in Tibet, when they meet with the Chinese leadership.

The PRESIDENT —Are you moving your motion, Senator Brown?

Senator BROWN —Yes. I move:

That the Senate applauds the statesmanship of the President of the United States of America (Mr Clinton) in raising the issue of human rights with China's President Jiang.

   Question put:

   That the motion (Senator Brown's ) be agreed to.