Tuesday, 14 August 2018
Cambodia: General Election
At the request of Senator Wong, I move:
That the Senate:
(a) expresses its serious concerns with Cambodia's 2018 national election and welcomes assurances that the Government has made Australia's concerns known to the Cambodian Government;
(b) notes the election process, which has included the dissolution of the Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP), the detention of CNRP leader Kem Sokha, and the banning of CNRP parliamentarians and officials from engaging in politics for five years, has reversed more than 25 years of progress towards democracy in Cambodia;
(c) recognises that freedom of expression and association underpin democratic societies and affirms concerns that the election took place in an environment where not all political parties, civil society organisations and media could operate freely;
(d) expresses its disappointment that Cambodian people have been unable to freely choose their representatives and recognises that the development of strong democratic practices and institutions, including a free press and civil society, is crucial to Cambodia's long-term prosperity;
(e) reiterates that, as a longstanding friend of Cambodia, Australia must continue to urge the Cambodian Government to take steps to allow free and open political debate without violence and intimidation;
(f) acknowledges the Australian Cambodian community for its tireless advocacy in support of human rights and democracy in Cambodia;
(g) calls on the Cambodian Government to immediately release opposition leader Kem Sokha;
(h) notes allegations of involvement in illicit activities, including money laundering, by members of the Cambodian People's Party in Australia, and urges full investigation of these claims; and
(i) calls on the Australian Government to consider, in coordination with other partners, additional measures to support democracy in Cambodia.
Australia has serious concerns with the 2018 national election process, and is disappointed that Cambodians were unable to freely choose their representatives. Foreign minister Bishop raised Australia's strong concerns with Cambodia's foreign minister on 4 August and issued a statement on 30 July. Australia also chose not to send election observers. We've repeatedly raised our concerns privately and publicly, including at the United Nations Human Rights Council. We will continue to encourage Cambodia to take steps to allow free and open political debate without violence and intimidation. We are considering all options in response to the political situation in Cambodia.
The Greens will support this motion. It's, again, interesting what the government defines as a contentious foreign policy motion. It seems if they agree with it, they're happy for it to be discussed. But let's be clear about this: the Greens support this motion. It is so disappointing—in fact, it's shameful—that, after Cambodia's recent sham elections, we still aren't seeing any action from this government. Other countries have taken a stand. Indeed, eminent Australians right across Australia—people like Michael Kirby—are speaking out and taking action. But it seems the Turnbull government is prepared to sit on its hands.
Not long ago, this Senate passed a motion urging Hun Sen to allow his citizens democratic rights. That was a Greens' motion. We now know that he hasn't allowed democracy in his country. It's time for sanctions against Hun Sen and his cronies—not just mealy-mouthed words of concern. Let's end that shameful refugee deal and let's stand up for the Cambodian people.
Question agreed to.