Senate debates

Tuesday, 13 June 2017


Sri Lanka, Infrastructure

9:37 pm

Photo of Lee RhiannonLee Rhiannon (NSW, Australian Greens) Share this | Hansard source

What was Mrs Turnbull's knowledge of the alleged suppression of the technical reports for the Sydenham to Bankstown urban renewal strategy after the announcement of her appointment as Chief Commissioner of Greater Sydney Commission? Why did the chief executive officer of the Committee for Sydney, Tim Williams, not disclose to the Sydney Morning Herald in October 2015 that the firm in which he is listed as a part-time principal, Arup Australia, prepared the transport traffic study?

It is also relevant that Arup provides office accommodation to the Committee for Sydney. Surely this information should have been disclosed to the department of planning. TheSydney Morning Herald of 14 October 2015 reported Tim Williams, the chief executive of the Committee for Sydney, said the plan at last represented a serious attempt to integrate land use and transport planning. Has Elton Consulting and JBA Planning received information from their involvement with the department of planning and the Greater Sydney Commission that has informed their work with property owners and benefited these clients? Did Elton Consulting and JBA Planning have access to all secret rezoning maps? Can Mrs Turnbull assure the people of New South Wales that the Committee of Sydney is not driving policies that benefit the developers and corporations that are its members?

On another matter, today I join members and supporters of the Chittagong Hill Tribes Indigenous Jumna Association Australia. They gathered together at our parliament to protest against the brutal treatment of their compatriots and for the implementation of the 1997 Chittagong Hill Tribes accord. The Chittagong Hill Tracts in Bangladesh have been affected by what has been described as genocide or ethnic cleansing for many years. In the 1960s and 1970s, thousands were forced off their land to make way for reservoirs and hydroelectric schemes, displacement made worse by massacres against the Jumna people—that is the collective name for all indigenous peoples in the region.

Violence, particularly sexual violence, is routinely carried out by Bangladeshi settlers and the military alike. A 2014 report from Amnesty International found: 117 Indigenous women had faced physical and sexual assault; 57 per cent were children; 21 of these women were raped or gang raped; and seven were killed. The Amnesty report also stated that during the first few weeks of 2015, at least three confirmed rapes were reported within sight of military checkpoints supposed to bring security to the area. These are only the reported incidents; the true figure is likely to be much higher. It is commonplace for the police not to report rape, and medical staff are pressured against doing so.

Crimes against the Chittagong Hill Tracts people continue. Today I met with a number of their representatives. I share their concern about the attacks on 2 June 2017, the mass arson of Indigenous Jumna villages at Langadu by Bengali settlers was carried out with support of military and police. About 250 houses and shops of indigenous peoples of several villages were torched. One 70-year-old woman was burnt alive as she could not flee. Hundreds are homeless, including children and elderly. Schoolchildren are unable to go to school, as fire took everything. Protest demonstrations in the Chittagong Hill Tracts against the arson are being brutally attacked by members of the Bangladeshi border guard and police. I do support the call of the Chittagong Hill Tracts Indigenous Jumma Association for the 1997 Chittagong Hill Tracts accord, including demilitarisation of the CHT to be fully implemented. Honouring the CHT accord is the key to stopping the decades of violence that these people have suffered for far too long and in such extreme forms.


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