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Thursday, 1 March 2007
Page: 79


Senator IAN CAMPBELL (Minister for Human Services) (1:29 PM) —At the risk of possibly incurring the wrath of the Acting Deputy President, Senator Milne asked me to make one response in relation to the right to protest. That is an incredibly important right in a democracy like ours. It is not a right that they enjoy in Iran, I might mention. It is not a right that is encouraged in Iran, which is an administration that Senator Milne seems to be sticking up for. We will defend that here. Perhaps Senator Milne could say to some of her comrades—


Senator Milne —Mr Acting Deputy President, I rise on a point of order. The minister seeks to deliberately misrepresent me. I have never said that I support the Iranian regime.


The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Forshaw)—Senator Milne, that is not a point of order.


Senator IAN CAMPBELL —Very quickly, could I just say that it is not a right that the citizens of Iran enjoy. It is a right that all freedom-loving people would love to see them enjoy and it is a right that we would like to see the people of Iraq enjoy.

Can I suggest that, if Senator Milne wants to do something to encourage demonstration and protest in Australia, she should talk to the protesters who protested against the meeting of the G20 finance ministers in Melbourne. They brought the great city of Melbourne into disrepute and will discourage future governments of both political persuasions from hosting major international meetings in the city of Melbourne. The disgraceful behaviour of those protesters went way beyond the bounds of peaceful political protest, which is to be encouraged in this democracy, and brought violence and physical harm to the police force of Victoria. I thought all of us would want to encourage political protest as a form of expression in this great democracy of ours, but the behaviour of those protesters in Melbourne was a disgrace. Senator Milne could do a great service for Australia’s democracy by telling her friends and comrades amongst those protesters to cease and desist from their violent actions.

Question agreed to.

Bill read a second time.