Senate debates

Tuesday, 26 November 2019


Customs Amendment (Growing Australian Export Opportunities Across the Asia-Pacific) Bill 2019, Customs Tariff Amendment (Growing Australian Export Opportunities Across the Asia-Pacific) Bill 2019; In Committee

1:39 pm

Photo of Jordon Steele-JohnJordon Steele-John (WA, Australian Greens) Share this | Hansard source

I'm just going to, as they say, leave that there. We are discussing the last of the Australian Greens amendments to the implementing legislation in relation to these agreements. I want to make very, very clear the choice that's on the table before us as a Senate here this afternoon. What we've just seen is in some ways a re-enactment of what's been happening in relation to the major parties and Hong Kong for the last six months or more, which is that both sides stand up and say really nice things about the positivity of the movement that is happening in Hong Kong, they talk about valuing and the respect they have for the demonstrators and the support of Australia for the continuation of the one country, two systems framework—and then they sit on their hands.

I think it's about time that we here—by which I mean you here—recognise that your space in this place is not about, in any way, shape or form, the theatre game that you seem to think passes as political discourse nowadays. Look into the faces of the young people right now holed up at the Hong Kong Polytechnic and see the fear that they have in their eyes and the knowledge that they do not know what is going to come next for them when the sun comes up again and the joy that is in the faces of the hundreds of thousands who are today celebrating the victory of pro-democracy parties in the local elections there and the joy at the small amount of administrative power that they feel they have now claimed in their hands and ask yourself the question of whether those people, if gifted the power and opportunity that you have, would exercise it in the way that you've just indicated that you will. Indeed, would they take the opportunity on such a serious human rights question to begin a low, partisan discussion about what a party might not understand or know as a so-called party of government?

There can be no more fundamental question than that which confronts us today, which is fundamentally about whether we decide to use the power granted to us to place ourselves on the right side of history and whether we will take this opportunity to open our ears to the calls of pro-democracy protesters and take the simple action that we are given the opportunity to take in order to show solidarity and support for them. If the parties in this place decided to implement our amendment tonight, it wouldn't cost them a fig. Nobody is going to come to you tomorrow and say: 'Oh, my lord. Isn't it awful? The major parties got together and decided to listen to pro-democracy protesters and do what they asked.' Who do you think is going to rock up to your door tomorrow morning and say that that was wrong thing to do?


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