Senate debates

Thursday, 25 November 2021


Beijing Winter Olympics

5:45 pm

Photo of Eric AbetzEric Abetz (Tasmania, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

Three months ago, along with seven of my colleagues, I wrote to the Prime Minister seeking Australia's diplomatic boycott of the Beijing Olympics. I've continued to probe this question at Senate estimates and continued to call for such a boycott publicly. Let's be clear: the hosting of an Olympics by a nation is not usually done because of the regime's love of sport. It is done because of the international prestige, the national prestige and the economic benefits that flow.

We see the beneficial impacts that hosting an Olympics can have for a dictatorship. The world saw that in 1936, when the national socialist dictatorship benefited by way of domestic and international propaganda. The world had come to this dictatorship. They were able to sell themselves, unfortunately, as being credible and a worthy world citizen. Beijing wants that same status in 2022. It is undeserving of that status. Which other country in the world at the moment has one million of its own people in concentration camps? Which other country currently engages in wholesale religious persecution? It doesn't matter if you're Muslim, Christian, Falun Gong or Buddhist, there is religious persecution. What is more, prisoners of conscience have their organs harvested—a barbaric practice.

This regime has ripped up an international agreement that it signed with the United Kingdom, sanctioned by the United Nations, in relation to the freedoms that would be enjoyed by the people of Hong Kong—just discarded like a soiled tissue, with completely no intention of abiding by its requirements. We can then talk about the Tibetans, the Mongolians and all who are having their rights denied. Then we can talk about China's acquisition of the South China Sea islands. The list goes on.

This is a regime unworthy of holding the Olympic flame, unworthy of holding an Olympics. When I first made this call some time ago, it would be fair to say that it was a relatively lone voice. I'm delighted that IPAC, the Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China, backs this call. I'm delighted that countries such as Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia—according to media—are now giving active consideration to such a boycott.

I recall some time ago when I was a lone voice in my party room opposing the proposed extradition treaty to China. Yes, I was labelled racist. I was labelled for prejudicing Australia's trade. It was a pretty lonely time. Now not a single person would suggest that we should have an extradition treaty with China. Thankfully that is closed and will not be proceeding. Similarly, I trust and hope that, as more and more people give consideration to the unworthiness of this dictatorship that is so brutal to its own people, countries and peoples that are freedom loving and that want to see democracy and liberty flourish around the world, will take a stand and say, 'We will not punish the athletes'—let them compete, but let our world leaders, our ministers for sport, our ambassadors et cetera stay away from Beijing during the Olympics as a show of strength and disdain for this belligerent and brutal dictatorship.