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Tuesday, 23 October 1973
Page: 2570

Mr WENTWORTH (Mackellar) - I wish to take this opportunity to make a constructive suggestion to the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) who, I understand, is to go abroad shortly to represent Australia in various countries and particularly in Communist China. As he says that he is a friend of all oppressed people, I suggest to him that he ask his good and trusted friend, the Chairman of the People's Republic of China, to arrange for a deputation from this Parliament to visit Tibet. Mr Speaker, as you know, a great many stories are current about what has happened in Tibet. Some people say that there has been genocide on a grand scale, if 'grand' be the right word. Some people say that the Chinese communists have obliterated the Tibetan culture. There is some evidence for that in the fact that the Dalai Lama has had to flee his country and take refuge overseas. The stories we hear are shocking beyond belief, but we cannot verify them because nobody is allowed to go to Tibet.

I suggest that, if the Chinese communists want to clear their name, if they want to put an end to these stories if they be untrue, they have a very simple remedy. They should allow a deputation of members from both sides of this House to visit Tibet, with the necessary interpreters, and to see for themselves what has been happening there. If a communist country, or indeed any other country, holds incommunicado for many years a large section of the territory which it claims - as far as Tibet is concerned there is some reason to think that the claim is not a justified claim but in point of fact is a claim of aggression - that country leaves itself open to all sorts of suspicious if it refuses to allow objective observers to visit and to report at first hand. The Prime Minister considers the Chairman of the People's Republic of China his friend. He has spoken of him in the highest and warmest terms. If this friendship is really as deep as the Prime Minister has suggested and if the distinguished chairman of the People's Republic of China has nothing to hide, it will be a simple matter for the Prime Minister to ask him whether he would allow a deputation of members from this Houst to visit Tibet and, with the proper facilities for seeing affairs there, to observe for themselves what the conditions are.

If it be true, as some people in China say, that the stories relating to Tibet are utterly unfounded, it would be good for everybody, including the People's Republic of China, for the truth to be reported. A visit by a deputation comprising members from both sides of this House would be a good way of establishing the truth. I know that many of the members of this House who are associated with Left wing movements and have participated in communist led agitation have professed that they are in favour of all sorts of freedoms, that they are - against all sorts of oppression and that they do not believe in genocide and murder. I am all with them on this.

Mr Cohen - We do not agree with multinationals like you.

Mr Armitage - Go back to sleep.

Mr WENTWORTH - Mr Speaker, am I to get no protection from the Chair when these kinds of remarks are made? I can understand how certain of the Left wing members of the Labor Party, who themselves have been associated with communist demonstrations, may feel a little tender on a matter like this. But if they are honest, if they really believe, as they say, that they are against all genocide and not just against the things which they profess to abhor in other countries which are not communist, they will come behind the suggestion that I have made and they, in their Caucus, will be asking the Prime Minister to allow a deputation to Tibet to take place.

If the communists have nothing to hide they will welcome a deputation from a body as objective and as well thought of as this House. If, on the other hand, they are unwilling to allow a deputation to see what is happening in Tibet, that of itself, to some extent, will substantiate the horror stories which we hear. Although these stories are not necessarily established because first-hand observers have not been allowed into Tibet, there is a great prima facie case for accepting the truth of these stories. We know that Tibetan refugees, including the most eminent Tibetan refugees - and I have spoken of the Dalai Lama - accuse the Chinese Communists - whether rightly or wrongly we do not know, but the accusation stands - of conducting a systematic assassination of the Tibetan people and of their culture. Charges of physical genocide and cultural genocide are made, and with some evidence.

If there is nothing to hide, I would think that the Chairman of the People's Republic of China would welcome a visit from members of this House who would be able to assure themselves and the world that all is sweetness and light in Tibet. By the way, this is not my opinion but, as I have said, one has these opinions and they are based on fairly good evidence. But I suppose that they are not conclusive opinions until objective observers have been to Tibet and have been able to see for themselves what has been happening. I make this very constructive suggestion to the Prime Minister. I hope that when he visits the distinguished Chairman of the People's Republic of China he will ask permission from him for a delegation from this House to visit Tibet so that the members of that delegation can see for themselves what is happening there and can make a report to the people of Australia and to the people of the world, because the people of the world surely should be interested in what is happening to a few million people on the roof of Asia.

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