Thursday, 4 July 2019
The Greens have put forward this motion to show solidarity with those people in Hong Kong who are protesting to defend their democratic rights and freedoms: the right to freedom of speech, to freedom of the press and to freedom of assembly. They rightly fear the reintroduction of a bill that would allow extraditions to mainland China, and who would blame them? They want to see it withdrawn. On 12 June, on just one day, the police in Hong Kong used 150 tear gas canisters on protesters. The Greens support their cause for the withdrawal of the bill, for an investigation into police actions and for the release of imprisoned protesters. We urge the coalition government, who say they stand up for the principles of democracy and who want to talk about freedom: well, stand up for it; defend Hong Kong's democratic rights.
Thank you, Mr President. There is intense public interest and international community concern at events in Hong Kong. Australia supports the right of people to protest peacefully and to exercise their freedom of speech, and we urge all sides to show restraint and avoid violence. Australia has a substantial stake in Hong Kong's success and values Hong Kong's unique advantages and freedoms under one country, two systems: the rule of law and its independent judiciary. The government has welcomed the announcement by the Hong Kong Chief Executive, Carrie Lam, to suspend legislative consideration of the planned changes to Hong Kong's extradition framework.
I thank the Senate. The opposition will recognise the government's right to deny formality, consistent with longstanding arrangements in this place which have previously been outlined. However, in relation to Hong Kong, I want to place on the record, consistent with my public statements previously, that the Australian Labor Party recognises and supports Hong Kong's unique advantages and freedoms under one country, two systems. Hong Kong is an important part of the international financial system and many Australians have personal and business connections there. Along with many in the international community, the people of Hong Kong are hoping it will retain its unique advantages and freedoms under one country, two systems, including particularly the rule of law and an independent judiciary. As a longstanding and consistent advocate for human rights, the Australian Labor Party believes that these arrangements must continue to be upheld.