Senate debates

Thursday, 21 June 2012


Human Rights: Vietnam

12:04 pm

Photo of Ron BoswellRon Boswell (Queensland, National Party) Share this | | Hansard source

I, and also on behalf of Senator Furner, move:

That the Senate—

  (a)   notes that:

     (i)   since 2002, Australia and the Socialist Republic of Vietnam (SRV) has held nine rounds of the Australia-Vietnam Human Rights Dialogue, and

     (ii)   the Australian Government, through the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, considers the improvements in human rights in SRV 'a high priority of the Australian government'; and

  (b)   calls on the Australian Government to:

     (i)   encourage the Minister for Foreign Affairs to ensure parliamentary supervision of the Australia-Vietnam Human Rights Dialogue by appointing Members to take part in the Dialogue,

     (ii)   encourage more active community awareness of the work of the Dialogue,

     (iii)   ensure Australia's overseas development aid to SRV includes a focus on promoting human rights, and

     (iv)   improve the effectiveness of the initiative by encouraging a more whole of government approach.

Question agreed to.

I seek leave for two minutes, shared with Senator Furner, to make some remarks on this motion.

12:05 pm

Photo of John HoggJohn Hogg (President) Share this | | Hansard source

Leave is granted for two minutes. I understand from what you have said that the two minutes is to be shared. We will set the clock accordingly and you can work out the proportion between yourselves.

Photo of Ron BoswellRon Boswell (Queensland, National Party) Share this | | Hansard source

In the gallery today we have a number of Vietnamese people who have presented to Senator Furner and me a petition from 55,361 petitioners. They have come into the gallery to see moved a bipartisan motion on human rights. I am sure that I speak for everyone in the parliament when I say that we all appreciate what the Vietnamese community has given to Australia. Mr President, I thank you for your leave and I thank them.

12:06 pm

Photo of Mark FurnerMark Furner (Queensland, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

It is my pleasure to stand in this chamber and speak on this notice of motion and also acknowledge the members of the Vietnamese Community in Australia in the public gallery this afternoon in support of this motion. It is not often that we share the opportunity of partisanship with the opposition on a matter like this, but we are standing shoulder to shoulder together on this with Senator Boswell and other members of the opposition and the government to make sure we address these issues concerning human rights abuses in Vietnam. Can I also acknowledge a good friend of mine, Dr Bui, the President of the Vietnamese Community in Australia's Queensland chapter, for his commitment and knowledge, and certainly for the lessons he has passed on to me about these sorts of abuses in Vietnam. I am privileged to be associated with him.

In closing, it is a matter that I quite often discuss as a member of the Human Rights Subcommittee of the Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade. It is a matter that the government is committed to addressing, along with the opposition, to make sure we alleviate some of those issues. We in this country take human rights for granted from time to time. Once again, thank you for the opportunity to address the chamber. (Time expired)