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Thursday, 8 June 1989
Page: 3613


Senator ROBERT RAY (Manager of Government Business in the Senate)(10.11) —On behalf of Senator Evans, I move:

That the Senate-

(a) condemns the massive and indiscriminate slaughter of thousands of unarmed Chinese pro-democracy demonstrators and bystanders by units of the Chinese People's Liberation Army in Beijing since Saturday, 3 June 1989;

(b) calls on the Chinese Government to cease this brutality and commence a process of open and democratic consultation with the Chinese people in order to avoid further bloodshed and violations of fundamental human rights;

(c) notes that the recent processes of economic liberalisation in the People's Republic of China, and the attendant benefit to the peoples of China and the region of those processes, cannot succeed in the face of the systematic repression of legitimate democratic aspirations; and

(d) recognises the work of diplomats and their staff who at times of trauma and difficulty are prepared to risk their personal safety to ensure that the lives of Australian citizens are not endangered.

I do not intend to speak to the motion at any great length because I think that the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Senator Evans, has made the position of the Australian Government completely clear on the events that have occurred in China. I have very little doubt that at the end of this debate the chamber will carry the motion unanimously and, as such, indicate to the Chinese Government the attitude of all Australians to the events that have occurred in China. Over the last eight or 10 years we have all been very encouraged by the extent to which reform was occurring and the degree of openness that was occurring in China. I think we all anticipated that long term, the events would lead, inevitably, to the establishment of a democratic regime-an open society, a society with respect for the law.

The events of the last few days are a massive setback to the direction of the last eight to 10 years. It is an absolute tragedy when a government feels it necessary to use its armed forces to shoot innocent, unarmed demonstrators in the way that has occurred. The Australian Government has made very clear to the Ambassador of China, and by its statements, its absolute abhorrence of the events that have occurred in China and calls on the Chinese Government to abstain from these activities. We hope that, long term, not only will stability be restored but also the march towards democracy and freedom in China will continue, and that China will take its place very proudly among the rest of the nations of the world. The events of the last few days certainly give it a lot to be ashamed about.