Ms O'CONNOR (Clark - Leader of the Greens) - Madam Deputy Speaker, I move -
That the House:
- Notes with admiration the struggle of young people in Hong Kong for a more free future and recognises their legitimate fear of Chinese Government control.
- Agrees the Chinese Government is an oppressive regime that uses fear and intimidation tactics to suppress dissent.
- Further notes with concern the recent reports of vehicles in Tasmania with Chengguan municipal police markings.
- Recognises that to many Chinese people, the Chengguan local police force represents arbitrary arrest, detention and violent oppression under the Chinese Government. Further agrees the timing and nature of these reports of fake Chinese police cars across the country suggest that they are profoundly unlikely to be unconnected 'jokes'.
- Further notes comments made by former residents of Hong Kong now living in Tasmania that the sight of this vehicle evoked great fear.
- Asserts that foreign powers do not have the right to infringe on the safety and security of citizens and guests of Tasmania.
- Will not tolerate the continued harassment and intimidation tactics being used by Chinese Government-aligned individuals and organisations in Tasmania.
- Calls on the Attorney-General to develop an amendment Bill to ban in Tasmania, the impersonation of any law enforcement agency of any jurisdiction.
We will be requiring a vote on this motion and it is my hope that this is something all members of the House can agree on.
Two weeks ago we received a call from a Tasmanian from Hong Kong who had seen outside the window of his unit in North Hobart a car that had the markings on it of a much-feared municipal police force on mainland China called Chengguan. We also know that a call was made to my colleague, the member for Clark, Ms Haddad's office at the time by the same person expressing the same concern and, regrettably, that concern went nowhere.
We recognised that this was a serious and sinister attempt to intimidate people from Hong Kong and potentially people also, of course, from the democratic nation of Taiwan, people from Tibet and Uighurs, people from Xinjiang, or East Turkestan province in northern China, where around 2 million innocent people are being detained. There are Uighur people living in Tasmania. The person who rang us, the Tasmanian from Hong Kong, said he saw that car faked up as a Chengguan police car and it evoked in him enormous fear. I also spoke to a student from Hong Kong on Sunday night who showed me other pictures of the same vehicle faked up as a police car and he said, 'It made me feel very, very scared'.
This needs to be seen in the context of increasing volatility in Hong Kong, an inspiring movement for freedom and democracy, and the fact that at university campuses around the country there have been rallies in support of Hong Kongers and attempts by the Chinese government through its proxies here to intimidate people at those rallies, and similar fake police cars have been spotted in Melbourne, Adelaide and Perth.
People might get up and make a contribution on this debate and say it was just a joke and why would we take anything like this seriously, but it is not a joke when it makes people who have come here to live in peace and safety feel terrified and it is not a joke when it is clearly part of a concerted effort that is happening around the country to intimate people who support the pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong.
I am certain any member of this place who watched Four Corners on Monday night would agree that the protests in Hong Kong are both terrifying and inspiring. For anyone who did not watched Four Corners, it was Sophie McNeill's outstanding report filmed over the last couple of weeks in Hong Kong and she was the only person who appeared in that report who was not a Hong Konger.
We heard the stories of students and academics and people who recognise that if they do not fight they will lose their city and all their freedoms. The Chinese government has made it very clear that they are prepared to use lethal force to suppress the push for freedom and democracy that is being generated by young people in Hong Kong.
The movement in Hong Kong is extraordinary. It is a leaderless movement, it is organic and it is highly democratic because all the protesters communicate with each other through online platforms where they get to vote and have a say on how that day's protests or actions will be rolled out.
I watched Four Corners the other night with my heart pounding for the citizens of Hong Kong but I also saw in that movement, something that should give activists all over the world hope and lessons on how to make change. You have an organic movement that is totally committed, young people who know that their entire future rests on this fight and for any member.
At risk of being pulled up for having a prop in the place, I have here some images, one from the front page of the Mercury of the faked up Chengguan police car and another from the same vehicle which was parked outside the University of Tasmania.
I refer to an academic paper prepared by the Associate Professor of Political Science at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, Mr Xi Chen (TBC). I quote to you some extracts of his paper which I hope will help members understand why these faked up vehicles have evoked such feelings of fear and insecurity in people who have come here from Hong Kong and other parts of China where the Chinese Government is oppressing people and seeking to suppress that innate and insuppressibly human desire for freedom.
The paper says:
Informal coercive tactics play an important role in maintaining political and social order in authoritarian regimes today, a fact variously attributed to the state's incapacity to monopolise coercive force and for strategic concealment of repression from international society.
The Chengguan police service is quite unique in that it is a local, or municipal level police service. The paper goes on to say:
The government agency typically tasked with enforcement of urban management rules around vending, traffic, the use of public space, is called the Chengguan Bureau or more officiously the Bureau of Comprehensive Law Enforcement.
While Chengguan bureaus are responsible for many challenging tasks, they are generally understaffed and face strict limitations on the use of force. Like the Sinn Fein system, the Chengguan system suffers from a built-in inadequacy in authority and coercive power.
Ironically, this theoretically constrained law enforcement agency has become notorious in China for the violence and abuse doled out in its name. As one foreign journalist comments, and I quote:
While they wield less power than the police, they become notorious for violence. Hardly a week goes by during which at least a beating by Chengguan officers is not reported in some Chinese city.
The word 'Chengguan' has even taken on an alternative meaning in China. Don’t be too 'Chengguan' is an appeal not to bully or terrorise.
In other words, Chengguan has literally become synonymous with violence.
My final word note from Mr Chen's academic paper in the training manual for the Chengguan, and this is a publicly available document to those researchers who go looking for it, the training manual titled 'The Practice of City Administrator Law Enforcement' says:
In dealing with the subject, take care to leave no blood on the face, no wounds on the body and no people in the vicinity.
Despite the intended secrecy of the manual, the Beijing Bureau of Urban Management acknowledged its authenticity.
That vehicle, faked up to frighten people here, is associated with a repressive, localised police force under a totalitarian, genocidal, misogynist regime which in its training manual has instructions to leave no blood on the face, no wounds on the body and no people in the vicinity.
After we got the call from the Tasmanian from Hong Kong, and unlike Ms Haddad's office did not ignore it, we went -
Ms HADDAD - Point of order, Madam Deputy speaker, under standing order 144. I object to what the member for Clark has said about me. I can provide the Chamber with information about what my office did if that is of interest to the Chamber.
Ms O'CONNOR - I know what your office did because the person who spoke to us said that your office suggested they call Tasmania Police.
Ms Haddad - That is right.
Ms O'CONNOR - You provided no support, no other advice, just off you go and call Tasmania Police. Is that right?
Ms Haddad - My office suggested that he should -
Madam DEPUTY SPEAKER - Ms Haddad, you can raise this in your time. It is not a point of order.
Ms O'CONNOR - After we received the call and took it seriously, and took our responsibility to -
Ms Haddad - And reported it to the media.
Madam DEPUTY SPEAKER - Order, Ms Haddad.
Ms O'CONNOR - represent all visitors to this island and all new Tasmanians, we did a bit of research on the legality of these cars. Under the Police Services Act of 2003, section 78, impersonation of a police officer is an offence but it is only if you impersonate a Tasmania police officer. Clearly, there is a deficiency in the legal protection for people from Hong Kong, Taiwan, Tibet or Uighur people who come to Tasmania.
Ms Haddad - That is exactly what we said to the man who contacted my office.
Ms O'CONNOR - Now that you have provoked me through interjection -
Ms Haddad - You said something that is really unfair about the people working in my office.
Madam DEPUTY SPEAKER - Ms Haddad, you will be able to make a contribution to this debate soon. I cannot hear what the member is saying so I do ask that the member is shown respect.
Ms O'CONNOR - I was not in the Chamber last night when Ms Haddad made a contribution on the anniversary celebrations for 70 years of Communist Party rule in China. I recognise the enormous contribution that Chinese Australians have made to this island and to all of our country, the cultural and economic contribution. There are around one million Australians of Chinese descent. The contribution that that broad community has made to this country cannot be over stated.
However, to stand up in this place on the adjournment and to laud an event that was organised by the Melbourne Consulate, which is recognised by the federal parliament as being a proxy for the Chinese communist government and its United Front work, on the day that the ICAC hearings in Sydney exposed Labor's utter complicity in the foreign influence and interference attempts of a totalitarian regime in this country, and not mention the struggle in Hong Kong, tells us a lot that we need to know about the problem that Labor has with naming up and being honest about the government of China.
When you look at the protests that are happening in Hong Kong, just as it was in Tiananmen Square in 1989, one of the catch cries of the protesters, these young desperate people, is 'tell the truth about China'. We are privileged members of a fragile, imperfect democracy and a free country and that places on our shoulders an enormous responsibility to speak up for people who are fighting for democracy every week.
Silence from the member for Clark on the Hong Kong protests. Talking up an event that was organised by a proxy for the propaganda department of a totalitarian regime is an abrogation of Ms Haddad's responsibility to defend the struggle for democracy wherever it happens in the world.
I was sent an article from ABC News and it is an opinion piece by Kevin Yam, a lawyer who grew up in China and was interviewed for the 4 Corners report. I am going to read a little bit of it because it is really important that we bell the cat on Labor and its complicity and silence on the struggle for democracy in Hong Kong, its silence on the fragility of democracy in Taiwan, and its abject silence on the plight of the Uighur people. Kevin Yam in an opinion piece says these things:
Before I returned to my birthplace, Hong Kong, to pursue my legal career 18 years ago, I spent 15 years growing up in Melbourne, during which I was an Australian Labor Party supporter. Even after I left Australia and no longer voted in Australian elections I continued to cheer the ALP on from afar.
When it comes to standing up to authoritarians, the ALP has form.
John Curtin led the fight against fascists during World War II. Ben Chifley dealt firmly with Communist-infiltrated unions. Arthur Calwell spoke firmly against Communist movements. Bob Hawke sided with the US against the Soviets and he also granted asylum to all Chinese students in the aftermath of the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre.
Mr Yam goes on to say:
With such history, if there ever were to be an archetype of people with whom Labor should firmly stand, the people of Hong Kong ought to be it. Labor has stayed silent. Millions of protesters in Hong Kong who have protested in recent months are fighting for the very essence of progressive values: freedom from being extradited to face trial of a non-independent judicial system, freedom from fear when exercising one's fundamental rights, the right to democratic governance. They have the courage to stand up to their authoritarian sovereign.
On July 24, peaceful pro-Hong Kong protesters at the University of Queensland were attacked by a nationalistic Chinese Communist mob. The attack was later praised by China's Consulate-General in Melbourne. It prompted Australia's Foreign Minister, Marise Payne, to issue a stern statement against such Chinese interference and in defence of free speech. But the ALP was nowhere to be found.
Then came a similar but larger-scale and more expletive-laden incident in Melbourne on August 16, during which an ABC cameraman was pushed over by a pro-Communist Chinese nationalist. Similar but smaller-scale incidents took place in other Australian cities in those few days. What did Hong Kongers get from the ALP in the aftermath of that weekend? Victorian Premier, Dan Andrews, who signed up to China's Belt and Road Initiative, has been conspicuously silent.
As for Federal Labor, Penny Wong (who I have long respected) made comments about the need for a calm and mature discussion about China.
Not one word in defence of the freedom fighters in Hong Kong.
In closing, Mr Yam says:
But perhaps I should be not so surprised. Recent hearings at the New South Wales ICAC are investigating the extent of relationships between the ALP and persons suspected of being close to the CCP. More generally, the CCP has long sought to quell criticisms from progressives in the western world by accusing those who question its stance and actions as racist.
Does that sound familiar to you, Dr Woodruff?
Dr Woodruff - Yes.
Ms O'CONNOR - Mr Yam says:
It would not surprise me if the ALP would be subject to accusations of discrimination against mainland Chinese students and migrants if it stood more firmly in relation to Hong Kong. That said, as someone who is proud to be ethnically Chinese, I actually find it more racist for progressives to think that Chinese people are all in the mould of the CCP and that we are culturally disinterested in democracy and human rights.
Ms Haddad - That is what you alleged about Tasmanian Chinese who you say are all communist spies. That is what you alleged.
Ms O'CONNOR - That is the most ridiculous statement and shortly I will tell you about Sunday night at Senator Nick McKim's office.
Mr Yam says:
All I ask for is that politicians in democracies such as Australia not shirk from calling out the CCP when it acts contrary to universal values of democracy and human rights, including in relation to Hong Kong. And given their purported core values, mainstream progressive groups, including Labor, ought to be on the frontlines in speaking up for the courageous people of Hong Kong, as well as for those who stand with Hong Kongers on Australian shores.
On Sunday night in Senator McKim's office on Macquarie Street I had the great honour to meet some young people from Hong Kong there to recreate a Lennon wall on the street frontage of Senator McKim's office. The stories they told and their courage was humbling. It was a privilege to meet these kids. They are really scared. They do not want to go home, but their home is where their family is. I note that today Senator Richard Di Natale has made a call for asylum to be granted to Hong Kong students who are in Australia now. The city they came from is no longer safe for them.
We should all be standing with the students from Hong Kong. I urge every member of this place to walk past that wall in Macquarie Street and have a look at those messages from these young Hong Kong students. You can make a contribution to the wall and put your own message up. Noone will identify you. You do not have to be as scared as they are. We could not show any of their faces and we could not identify them in any of the social media that we did. This is a profound situation that these young people are in. All they want is to live freely. Every person in this place should stand with Hong Kong.
We want this House to agree that it should be against the law for any person to impersonate any other law enforcement agency of any other country and I hope we will have support for that. No foreign power has the right to infringe on the safety and security of citizens and guests in Tasmania. We must fiercely defend our democratic foundations, we must speak truth to power and we must send a message to every person who comes to this island to live in safety and peace that we will protect them from foreign influence and threats.
We would like to see this House agree collectively that we will not tolerate the continued harassment and intimidation tactics being used by Chinese government-aligned individuals and organisations in Tasmania. We would like this House to agree that the Attorney-General should develop an amendment bill to ban in Tasmania the impersonation of any law enforcement agency of any jurisdiction.
I hope that members of this House can recognise their privilege. We talk about white privilege often and we talk about male privilege. Privilege comes in many forms. We talk about the privileges of the wealthy. There is a certain privilege and responsibility that comes from being born or living in a free, democratic country. This wonderful, flawed democracy that we live in is rare in the world. We have to defend it from threats, foreign influence and foreign interference and we have to be really clear that we will not as a society tolerate foreign actors seeking to cause fear and intimidation to people who come to Australia for peace, safety and a good life and for the freedoms that we take for granted.
As democratically elected members in a democratic parliament it is our responsibility to speak for the people of Hong Kong, Taiwan, Tibet and Xinjiang to make sure that our laws are robust, to protect the foundations of our democracy, and make sure that people who come here from Hong Kong are not allowed to be intimidated by the kind of thuggish impersonation that we saw a couple of weeks ago in North Hobart and at the University of Tasmania.
I also wrote to the Commissioner of Police about this matter, because it is very clear that the police have limited powers to protect people who have fled oppressive regimes overseas. This is an opportunity for the parliament to make sure that never again will a person who has come here for a good life from Hong Kong or Taiwan ever look out their window, or look over the street, and see such a symbol of violence and oppression.
I commend the motion to the House.
Ms ARCHER (Clark - Minister for Justice) - Madam Deputy Speaker, there is a lot in this motion from the Leader of the Greens, Ms O'Connor, that I have great sympathy with. We do have to protect our freedoms in this country and in this state.
Mr Rockliff - Hear, hear.
Ms ARCHER - I hear a 'hear, hear' from behind from the Deputy Premier, who was out doing media around the time of what happened at UTAS.
Ms O'Connor - Yes, he was and made some impressively strong statements.
Ms ARCHER - Exactly, and expressed our concern as a Government, that everyone who lives in our state should have the right to free speech and to express their own thoughts, values and opinions as freely as they wish.
It always has to be within the confines of the law, and I stand to make a contribution today on behalf of the Government as the Attorney-General. I want to mention some factual circumstances, the current state of the law, and what is being done in this space in terms of national developments. I will also observe - with the support, I am sure, of the minister for Police, Mr Shelton - that this is largely an area for police, because we are dealing with the law enforcement agency.
A lot of this work has been developed nationally as part of the meetings held between police ministers from every state and territory, and federally. Sometimes we have a combined meeting with Attorneys-General as well, and there is crossover. Some of these things are not as straightforward as asking that I develop an amendment bill.
It is quite a detailed motion, with many points to it, that presumably because of time Ms O'Connor did not read out. It has nine different paragraphs or points, the last which falls on the Attorney-General to develop an amendment bill to ban in Tasmania the impersonation of any law enforcement agency of any jurisdiction.
There is no doubt that recent events in Hong Kong have raised concerns right around the world, including here in Tasmania. Hong Kong is a very popular destination for many millions of visitors each year from right around the world, not dissimilar to our burgeoning tourism market as well. People go there to visit the sights of Hong Kong and perhaps undertake some of its highly popular shopping. It is also a common stopover point for many Australians as they travel to and from Europe, and it is a gateway for visitors and business representatives alike to go to China.
As with the Australian Government, the Tasmanian Government urges a peaceful resolution to restore confidence in the one-country two-systems formula.
Ms O'Connor - It no longer exists, you know? It is one-country, one-system now.
Ms ARCHER - Sorry, if my notes are incorrect?
Ms O'Connor - You need to follow the news from Hong Kong more closely, I suggest, with respect.
Ms ARCHER - Thank you, Ms O'Connor. Obviously, Hong Kong's autonomy underpins international business confidence as well.
We understand that Hong Kong is a significant market for some exporters, and we are not aware of any reports which indicate that Tasmanian exporters or businesses have been affected to date. Any potential disruption to Tasmanian exports to Hong Kong may be at least partly offset by high direct exports to mainland China, as many goods are currently transhipped through Hong Kong to the mainland.
For those Tasmanians visiting Hong Kong for business or pleasure, we recommend for their own safety that they take travel advice on Smarttraveller. That foreign law enforcement and intelligence agencies have no authority in Australia is also something that I want to highlight to this House.
In terms of the concerns raised in this motion, I note and the Government notes that Tasmania Police has received correspondence from Ms O'Connor in relation to the matter, and I am advised the correspondence is being given full consideration. Tasmania Police are engaging and liaising with police services and security and intelligence organisations nationally and in other jurisdictions.
Ms O'Connor - Can I just ask by interjection, Attorney-General, in relation to these matters?
Ms ARCHER - Yes, in relation to this particular instance, and I will get on to other similar instances across Australia. For that reason I note that Mr Shelton is the responsible minister for the Ministerial Council of Police and Emergency Management, which I referred to, and it is made up of police ministers from the Commonwealth, from each state and territory, and also New Zealand. The President of the Australian Local Government Association also attends that, I understand, because of [cities???] involvement in the regional areas.
The council meets up twice per year, with their next meeting scheduled for 20 November 2019, and I expect that will be also a topic that will be broadly or more specifically on the agenda. That particular council focuses on the broad themes of law enforcement reform and emergency management, and increased collaboration across these types of themes and indeed shared instances, so it is appropriate that the Government informs its position on any need for law reform in this area. It does deal with an overseas type of situation, so we need to base our advice nationally, so there is consistency as well to be a responsible Government.
It is important to note that it is already an offence to impersonate a police officer. Many members in this House would know, but it is important that I get this on Hansard. It is under Tasmanian legislation, namely the Police Service Act 2003, and section 78 deals with impersonation. I know this relates to a specific person, and indeed impersonating a member of the Tasmania Police service rather than any kind of any international police officer, but this type of instance has not occurred before in my living memory, and that is why the police are actually engaging with other agencies as well.
In respect of the specific allegations of the car to which Ms O'Connor referred, with Chinese writing on it, which I believe when translated means City Management Law Enforcement, police initially became aware of this matter on 20 August 2019, when a resident of North Hobart, who was originally from Hong Kong, reported seeing such a vehicle. That is obviously consistent with what Ms O'Connor has reported as well. Clearly that caller felt intimidated. Inquiries with that person by Tasmania Police indicate that they were not directly approached or spoken to in any manner by anyone from the vehicle, and observed it, but obviously it caused them enormous fear.
I am also advised that officers from Tasmania Police have since spoken to the owner of the vehicle, who claims it was not his intent to cause any fear but that his marking of the vehicle was an attempt at humour, and I would say a poor attempt at humour at that.
Ms O'CONNOR - Jokes don't frighten people.
Ms ARCHER - No, and I accept that. The writing markers in question are available for purchase on the internet apparently, which is quite astounding in itself, but there you go, that's the internet for you. Police have provided advice as to the appropriateness of the markings and strongly suggest that they be removed. While the marking of the vehicle in this manner is not an offence under Tasmanian legislation currently, Tasmania Police will continue to monitor the situation and continue to liaise with other interstate law enforcement and national intelligence bodies in this regard. Police in other states have confirmed reported sightings of the cars with Chinese writing on them -
Ms O'Connor - Police vehicle markings.
Ms ARCHER - Yes, similar Chinese writing as the instance in question here. As has been reported publicly, in Western Australia police spoke with the owner of one such vehicle and they agreed to remove the writing from the vehicle. So far it seems to be that people are removing it. It was reported that while it is illegal to replicate the appearance of an Australian police vehicle, there is no law against decorating a car with another country's police insignia on it. South Australian police have also confirmed they have identified the owner of a vehicle which looked like a Chinese police car.
The wording of the motion as it currently is causes some difficulty because I cannot guarantee I can develop an amendment bill to ban this and the work is being done in collaboration with the National Council of Police Ministers.
Ms O'Connor - Can I seek some clarification by interjection? Why wouldn't the state of Tasmania and the Tasmanian parliament be able to enact a ban in this way?
Ms ARCHER - As I have said on a number of occasions in this place, I am not going to do law reform on the run. I would like to fully inform myself. The Police minister also needs to fully inform himself of the situation, as do his counterparts in other states. It is dealing with an international jurisdiction -
Ms O'Connor - No, it's dealing with the Tasmanian jurisdiction.
Ms ARCHER - Ms O'Connor, if it was impersonation of a Tasmanian police car, it would be quite a simple matter to ensure that that did not occur again by banning our own, but we are talking about -
Ms O'Connor - This is not a question of international law. This is about the intimidation of people here.
Ms ARCHER - We are talking about an international situation which needs to be dealt with in the appropriate manner. The appropriate investigations need to occur with other law enforcement agencies and there would need to be consistency across Australia.
Ms O'Connor - There is no consistency. It's in criminal codes and crimes acts across the country.
Ms ARCHER - I will make the observation that the trade relationship with China and our tourism market is indeed very important to us, so we cannot have a kneejerk reaction to a situation like this without thoroughly considering law reform in the appropriate manner.
Ms O'Connor glossed over the wording of the motion and there are a number of emotive words used in it that I and the Government are not comfortable with so we will not be supporting the context of the motion.
Ms O'Connor - Will you make an in-principle agreement to advance this?
Ms ARCHER - You have the Police minister and the Attorney-General in the House. You no longer have the Deputy Premier, but I know we have made strong statements about the incidents that have occurred around our city in relation to any stifling of free speech. Any intimidation is unacceptable. The police have dealt with that incident and asked that it be removed, notwithstanding the fact that it was not unlawful, and so far is getting cooperation in that regard.
Let us not have a kneejerk reaction. Let us continue to consult with other jurisdictions and make sure that we have a consistent approach.
Dr BROAD (Braddon) - Madam Deputy Speaker, Labor supports the rights of the people of Hong Kong to peacefully protest. However, we also have to recognise that this is a very sensitive issue. I acknowledge the comments of the Deputy Premier in terms of the rights of people who reside in Tasmania to free speech and to be able to express their opinions without fear or favour. It is a concern that there was somebody driving around with the badge of a police officer from another country on their car, because it has the potential to intimidate. We believe that no-one should feel intimidated by somebody impersonating a police officer, whether they be an Australian police officer or indeed one from another jurisdiction.
I thank the Attorney-General for her comments and it is somewhat comforting that steps have been taken to remove the sign. Hopefully we will not have this happen again. However, I would like some comments from the Attorney-General, maybe via interjection, in regard to the Police Services Act, especially section 78 which deals with impersonation. It says:
A person who is not a police officer must not do any of the following without lawful excuse or approval of the commissioner -
Wear or have in possession a police uniform or any other part of a police uniform;
Wear or have in possession any uniform or badge that resembles or is likely to be perceived as a police uniform or badge;
Impersonate or represent himself or herself as a police officer;
Then (f) deals with having in possession any arms, ammunition or other equipment supplied to any police officer. The penalty is a fine not exceeding 20 penalty units and the terms of imprisonment not exceeding two years.
In that act a police officer is defined as:
a member of the Police Service other than a trainee or junior constable;a person seconded or transferred to the Police Service as a police officer.
Does that capture all police services, because it is talking in very general terms?
Ms Archer - No, it is a Tasmanian act.
Dr BROAD - We could have a situation where somebody in Tasmania could be impersonating a Queensland police officer or a New South Wales police officer and then escape -
Ms Archer - If we did a ban it would not come under that act, because that deals with the Tasmania Police Service. It is a state jurisdictional matter under the Constitution. This is why these things need to be looked at and not done ad hoc. This is my point. There are constitutional issues.
Dr BROAD - I am questioning you to get your feedback in an honest -
Ms Archer - It only deals with the Tasmania Police Service and you wouldn't fiddle with that act.
Dr BROAD - Okay. Traditionally, there is a longstanding practice that issues as sensitive as this need to be tackled by the appropriate level of government. There is a longstanding tradition for states not to interfere in or, indeed, contradict government policy when it comes to international relations. I believe we really need to abide by that. We have to accept that while it may be useful in the current circumstances to take note of the realities and while we value and promote these principles, Hong Kong is a Chinese territory and China is a sovereign country and a communist regime. We have good diplomatic people-to-people trade relations with China in the full knowledge that it is a communist regime, so whatever we as individuals think about it, we do have a trading relationship with China and that is why it is a very sensitive issue.
It does nothing for our efforts to influence any change towards our values to attack China with inflammatory language in the way this motion proposes, especially point 2, which is very inflammatory.
Ms O'CONNOR - Point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. The member for Braddon, apparently a scientist, has again misrepresented us. We did not attack China. Point 2 of the motion says 'agrees that the Chinese Government is an oppressive regime that uses fear and intimidation tactics'. We have not attacked China or the Chinese people. Labor needs to stop misrepresenting this.
Madam DEPUTY SPEAKER - Ms O'Connor, that is not a point of order. It is Dr Broad's call.
Dr BROAD - That is obviously the member for Clark's opinion and I would challenge that opinion. I believe that isolating a whole country and calling them names is not particularly helpful in making a change.
We know that the one country two systems was agreed for 50 years and not forever. We do have to be mindful of what is happening here. Labor strongly believes that people should be free of intimidation or racism in any form which is why the coded dog whistling language that the Greens, as we have just heard, is appalling. As the member for Clark, Ms Haddad, was discussing in the adjournment last night, these can have real consequences for people in the community. This coded language of the Greens sometimes feels a bit like Pauline Hanson. For example, claims - and we have heard them again today - that every event held by Tasmanians of Chinese descent obviously must be funded by the Chinese Communist Party are inflammatory. As are the claims of every Chinese citizen in Australia must be a spy.
Ms O'CONNOR - Point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker, standing order 144. Have some respect. Again, Dr Broad is misrepresenting the Greens' position completely. We talked specifically about an event the night before last which was organised by the Chinese Consulate in Melbourne which is recognised by the federal parliament as an arm, or doing the work, of the United Front department of the Chinese Government.
Madam DEPUTY SPEAKER - Ms O'Connor, I know you are passionate about this matter but it is not a point of order. Please do not interrupt.
Ms O'Connor - There was a point that needed to be made because he is misrepresenting us and being racist to boot.
Dr BROAD - No, you are being racist. You are blind to your own bias. That is the thing. You are absolutely blind to your own bias. Coming into this place and making claims like you have done in here -
Madam DEPUTY SPEAKER - Through the Chair please, Dr Broad.
Dr BROAD - Madam Deputy Speaker, making claims that Chinese citizens are under the influence of the Chinese Communist Party, linking every single investor of Chinese origin directly back to the Chinese Communist Party, these things have an effect on people. Ms Haddad has heard numerous instances where people of Chinese descent and Chinese tourists are feeling intimidated because of this coded dog whistling -
Ms O'Connor - Aldi bag anyone, $100 000 in an Aldi bag.
Madam DEPUTY SPEAKER - Order.
Dr BROAD - You cannot resile from it. You have a bias. Through the Chair, the Greens have a bias. They do not understand their own bias. They cannot see through it.
Ms O'Connor - A bias for democracy.
Madam DEPUTY SPEAKER - Order, Ms O'Connor.
Ms O'Connor - People who are fighting for freedom.
Madam DEPUTY SPEAKER - Order. Ms O'Connor, I do not want to throw you out.
Dr BROAD - It is exactly this language that saw election signs being vandalised during the local government elections. This is cause and effect so congratulations to the Greens. Congratulations, but the 'I have Chinese friends' defence just does not cut it. This is quite typical of the Greens. We have to deal with this. The grown ups in the room have to deal with issues like this very sensitively. Penny Wong, for example, has stated that this should be dealt with by our federal colleagues. Penny Wong said:
We are deeply concerned with the situation in Hong Kong. Labor Australia believes in the right of people everywhere to express their views through peaceful assembly.
She followed on to say that she urged authorities to exercise maximum restraint. We need to have this tackled by the appropriate level of government.
The rest of this motion is typical Greens. The Greens can be accurately described as a political placebo. You can define a placebo as an inert substance or treatment which is designed to have no therapeutic value. In other words something completely useless designed to convince people that they should feel better. That is what a placebo does and that is exactly what the Greens do. It is a political party which has no ability to make changes by themselves. A placebo is completely useless but it will make 10 per cent of people feel better even if it says 'placebo' on the bottle. This is an exact case. We have absolutely no ability in this place to enforce regime change in China or indeed in Hong Kong.
Dr Woodruff - So you have no ability to do anything on any issue because you are not in government. Just go back to Braddon.
Dr BROAD - This is the State Parliament of Tasmania. You have to get a bit of a grip. Another name for what the Greens is doing here is called 'virtue signalling'. It is the practice of saying or writing things that show you have correct opinions about something. The Greens are talking about issues simply to show how informed they are and how much they care. Basically, but critically, no-one actually has to do anything. That is what virtue signalling is.
Virtue just comes merely from the words, merely by signalling we support the people of Hong Kong - and we do support the people Hong Kong - but that is all you can do. That is all the Greens can do. The Greens cannot effect any change in this instance in terms of regime change in Hong Kong or China.
Now, there is the potential for a bill to be drafted to make it an offence to impersonate a police officer from another jurisdiction or another country. That is something that we could actually do and I am satisfied from the conversation that the Attorney-General put forward that it is something that we should consider. I also agree - because this seems to be happening in other states - we need to have a consistent approach across jurisdictions. The inflammatory language that is contained in this motion in terms of things like number two is simply not helpful. Of course -
Ms O'Connor - That is a statement of fact.
Dr BROAD - Yes. We have the moral superiority of the Greens where their world view is the only correct view and any other opinion is morally wrong. Time and time again when we come into this place we have this blind self-righteousness which is at the heart of the Greens movement. Any other opposing view or opinion is held by anyone else simply because the Greens know the right version of the truth. The Greens talk down to people like they are stupid for not agreeing with them on every point.
Ms O'CONNOR - Point of order, Madam Speaker, standing order 144. I want to point out to the member for Braddon that unlike his party we do not take donations of $100 000 in Aldi bags.
Madam SPEAKER - Can you just hold while I check. Order. I just want to check standing order 144.
Ms O'CONNOR - I take offence.
Madam SPEAKER - The member has taken offence. Can you apologise?
Ms O'Connor - Just tell the truth. Just speak straight.
Dr BROAD - I am not exactly sure what I am supposed to be withdrawing.
Madam SPEAKER - I am not certain what you are apologising for either but you have been asked to apologise.
Dr BROAD - I will withdraw. I do not know what exactly but I will withdraw it.
You honestly believe that the only way people can disagree with the Greens is because they are poorly informed or stupid. There are people who are living a different reality. Food, shelter, getting a job, being able to provide for your family is very important. The Greens are only really ever a luxury. It is no coincidence that the brunt of the Greens' job destroying policies are felt greatly in regional Tasmania where the Greens vote is the lowest. It is the massive irony of Australia in the Greens' politics that in areas where there is literally the least environment the Greens vote is the highest. The more concrete you have and the more high-rises the more Greens voters you have.
Ms Archer - How is your vote going in regional areas?
Dr BROAD - It is improving. Ask Mrs Rylah how it went last election. We have to have these issues dealt with at the appropriate level but we have the Greens who are just virtue signalling so they will be able to go to their constituency their 10 per cent, the 10 per cent that they make feel better by these largely symbolic motions that they continually bring in -
Ms O'Connor - It is not symbolic. It has an action at the end unlike the crap you debated and tabled in the last private members time.
Dr BROAD - An action at the end which we have dealt with. What about point number two, you are arguing for regime change in this place. How can we change the regime in China from the Tasmanian parliament?
Ms O'Connor - We can support people who are seeking freedom and democracy in China.
Dr BROAD - We can do something symbolic, everybody. Thank you. We can do something symbolic and that is going to change everything.
Ms O'Connor - Here is Kevin Yam's article. He has just asked for people like us to stand with the people of Hong Kong.
Dr BROAD - There are other people. This is the whole thing. You pick an example. I do not know the individual you are talking about but there are other Chinese people who have expressed to us their concern about the behaviour of the Greens, their coded Hanson-like language with those racist undertones that is resulting in people feeling intimidated and not leaving their homes. This is actually happening.
What about the Greens coming in here and criticising every single project that has any level of Chinese investment? You continually come here and talk about VDL company. Great example. VDL company. It is Chinese. Okay, bad, bad. Laguna Bay is another company. You are blind to your own bias.
Ms O'CONNOR - Point of order, Madam Speaker. So the House is really clear on our concern about VDL, it is actually owned, effectively through banks, by the Chinese government. Of course, we are concerned.
Dr BROAD - Thank you. You have proved my point, here we go. The member for Clark has literally proven my point.
Madam SPEAKER - Sorry, that is not a point of order.
The House divided -
AYES 2 NOES 21