Senate debates

Monday, 25 June 2018


Cambodia: General Election

5:12 pm

Photo of Richard Di NataleRichard Di Natale (Victoria, Australian Greens) Share this | | Hansard source

I move

That the Senate—

(a) notes:

  (i) the suppression of democracy in Cambodia, the jailing of Opposition leader Kem Sokha and the dissolution of the main Opposition party, the Cambodian National Rescue Party, ahead of the 29 July 2018 national election,

  (ii) the continued intimidation of journalists, closure of radio stations including Radio Free Asia, and government moves to exert broad control over online news and social networking,

  (iii) that such a pre-election environment is not conducive to holding free and fair national elections,

  (iv) the restricted entry provisions imposed by the United States Government on people involved in Cambodian actions to undermine democracy, and

  (v) that the European Union and the United States are not providing funding for the national election committee; and

(b) recalls that, on 21 March 2018, Australia and 44 other countries delivered a Joint Statement at the 37th Session of the UN Human Rights Council, citing "an electoral process from which the main democratic opposition party has been arbitrarily excluded cannot be considered genuine or legitimate";

(c) recognises Australia's key leadership role in the Paris Peace Accord of 1991 which brought an end to the Cambodian Vietnamese war and began the move to democracy in Cambodia; and

(d) as a friend of Cambodia, urges the Cambodian Government to allow all its citizens to exercise their democratic rights, particularly ahead of the 2018 national election.

I seek leave to make a short statement.

Photo of Sue LinesSue Lines (WA, Deputy-President) Share this | | Hansard source

Leave is granted for one minute.

Photo of Richard Di NataleRichard Di Natale (Victoria, Australian Greens) Share this | | Hansard source

I am pleased that the government, and, indeed, the Labor Party have not denied leave. This is a complex foreign policy matter, but it happens to be one that they both agree with. Finally, we are seeing the government and the ALP finally condemning the Cambodian's approach to their national elections in a month. Let's remember what's going on in Cambodia right now. The opposition has effectively been banned. We've got MPs in prison or exiled. Media organisations have been shut down. There is no free speech in Cambodia. The Australian government should be calling this election what it is, a sham. We should declare now that it's not a free, fair or credible result and that it won't be recognised. I have to say it is extremely disappointing that the Turnbull government has been kowtowing to Hun Sen until now. I do hope that this is a sign that there will be a stronger stance towards this appalling anti-democratic regime. (Time expired)

Question agreed to.