Wednesday, 7 October 2020
Questions without Notice
China: Human Rights
My question is to the Minister for Youth and Sport, Senator Colbeck. Minister, what is the total taxpayer funding committed to support Australia's participation in the 2022 Winter Olympics to be held in Beijing, the capital of the People's Republic of China? Given the gross human rights abuses committed by the Chinese government—including what amounts to genocide against the Uighur people—the suppression of democratic freedoms in Hong Kong and the imprisonment of Australian citizens on trumped-up national security charges, how can the government morally support Australian participation in the 2022 Winter Games in Beijing? Would you agree that Australia should step away from what will be a massive Chinese communist propaganda spectacle? Will you, as the sports minister, confer with the Australian Olympic Committee and the Olympic Winter Institute of Australia to bring about an Australian boycott of the Beijing Winter Olympic Games?
At the outset, can I say Australia remains deeply concerned by reports of enforced disappearances, mass detention, forced labour and pervasive surveillance of Uighurs and other ethnic minorities in Xinjiang, and by restriction of freedom of religion and belief in China. These concerns are reflected across the parliament and the Australian community; I note Senator Abetz's contribution to the parliament during senators' statements earlier today.
Minister Payne has clearly conveyed the Australian government's concerns about the situation in Xinjiang to China, including during her last three meetings with State Councillor Wang Yi and during her address to the UN Human Rights Council on 14 September this year. Australia will continue to raise its concerns during sessions of the UN Human Rights Council and the UN General Assembly, as we have done consistently during recent sessions.
I have some figures on support for winter sports. I will note that all of the funding allocations made to winter sports are available publicly on the Sport Australia website. The last financial year figures that I have for high-performance allocations are for the Olympic Winter Institute, of $5.25 million. Skiing and snowboarding received $1.61 million for able-body sport, and there was $1.23 million for parasports. Those numbers go beyond the Winter Olympics—
Minister, is it not the case that the International Olympic Committee's 2017 adoption of human rights principles in its host city contracts does not apply to its agreement with China for the 2022 Winter Games in Beijing? Will you, as sports minister, contact your counterparts in other Western democracies to urge that their countries boycott the Beijing Games?
In relation to that particular matter I note the comments of Foreign Secretary Raab in recent days, where he indicated that it was his instinct to separate sport from diplomacy. I share those instincts, but I do not step back from the comments that I made in response to the senator's primary question and neither, I think, does anybody in the parliament. We have a range of avenues to advocate strongly for human rights in China, including directly with China and in multilateral forums. We will continue to raise our concerns, as we've done consistently through the joint statement with 38 other countries to raise concerns about human rights in Hong Kong and in Xinjiang.
Minister, would you agree that, if Australia is to boycott the Beijing games, that decision should be taken now without delay so that Australia's Winter Olympic athletes will know where they stand and that appropriate financial support can be provided to the AOC and the Olympic Winter Institute? Will you commit to full support for our athletes, who should not be asked to compete at an event that will promote a communist government engaged in genocide?
Can I say that it is not the government but the independent Australian Olympic Committee that is responsible for sending teams to Winter and Summer Olympic Games. The committee is independent from government. I share Senator McKenzie's view and I don't believe the Australian Olympic Committee requires financial assistance from the government—in fact, it's quite proud of the fact it doesn't receive any. It is clearly outlined in the AOC's objectives that the AOC has exclusive authority for the representation of and participation by Australia at the Olympic Games, Winter Olympic Games, Youth Olympic Games, Winter Youth Olympic Games and regional games, including the selection and discipline of all members of the team who represent Australia at those games.