House debates

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Constituency Statements

Million Hearts, One Voice Campaign

4:10 pm

Photo of Bernie RipollBernie Ripoll (Oxley, Australian Labor Party, Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasurer) Share this | | Hansard source

Australia has always been characterised as having a vibrant multicultural people from all parts of the world. From time to time they have come here in different ways. In particular, there is one group in my electorate which I consider of great importance; the Vietnamese people, who have enriched Australia after a very difficult war in their own country and who have risked their lives fleeing repression from the Vietnamese government after that war ended. We know that Australia was very generous and accepted many thousands of Vietnamese people. They have made an enormous contribution to Australia and to Australia's way of life.

Just as then, when Australia took a stand on human rights and on supporting the people of Vietnam, Australia today maintains that support. We do it through a range of mechanisms here in Australia for Vietnamese Australians and also back in Vietnam when issues of human rights are raised. I inform the House and people from all over the world that, unfortunately, it still is a concern that there are many human rights breaches in Vietnam. That is sad. It is sad for what, potentially, is a great country with great people.

My local Vietnamese community and Vietnamese people right across Australia have not forgotten their homeland and continue to work to help free their family members, their friends and fellow Vietnamese people. Last Saturday I had the privilege of joining with my Vietnamese friends to sign the Million Hearts, One Voice Campaign petition where the aim is to gather 100,000 signatures to highlight the issues and problems that are happening in Vietnam, particularly with the arrest of dissidents for such crimes as writing songs, having an opinion or a view, belonging to a particular religion, having faith, wanting to have freedom of media, wanting to have expression of religion and other things.

As we know, in relation to matters of human rights we ought always to speak up for and on behalf of those who do not have a voice. That is what this Million Hearts, One Voice petition is about. The petition is addressed to the head of the United Nations Human Rights Council as well as to the human rights spokesperson and foreign affairs ministers of the EU, the European parliament, and a number of nations including Australia, the United Kingdom, Germany and the United States. It is important that there will always be people in Australia and in those countries that I have mentioned which are prepared to stand up and speak for those without a voice. This is a global petition. It is 100,000 signatures. In fact there are many more than 100,000 signatures from Australia. To focus this issue on 10 December, which is international Human Rights Day, I encourage all Australians to continue to support our great community, the Vietnamese people and the new Vietnamese Australians.