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Uyghur and Kazakh People - Human Rights Abuses

Cassy O'Connor MP  -  Tuesday, 25 September 2018

Tags: China


Are you aware of the extreme human rights abuses being inflicted on the Uyghur and Kazakh people living in East Turkestan? Recent reports are that 1 million people have been incarcerated with an estimated 13 million living in fear as a result of the Chinese Government - of which you are so fond - brutally forcing them to renounce their Islamic faith, culture and language through arbitrary mass internment with surveillance cameras in people's homes and the official policy of removing Uyghur children from their parents. The Chinese Government is using physical and psychological torture to erase weaker culture and force allegiance to the CCP. Human Rights Watch and the Australian National Imams Council and the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights have all condemned the Chinese Government's gross human rights violations and called for action from political leaders.

After a fortnight of being feted by Communist Party cadres do you have the courage to speak about their brutal treatment of Muslim minorities?

Madam SPEAKER - I remind Ms O'Connor that international law is not a speciality of this House but I will allow the Premier to answer it if he wishes.




Certainly, Madam Speaker, I will address this question because it is important. Whilst I am certainly aware of issues relating to human rights and matters which are more appropriately concerned with the affairs of the national parliament and its government, I am conscious of those matters but also very conscious of the fact that Asia is the source of around 80 per cent of Tasmania's exports. The largest trading partner we have is China. It is the largest source of international tourists, and it is the largest source of international students. They are an important trading partner and that is reflected in the business that is conducted between local Tasmanian operations, our institutions and government agencies and our national authorities and their relevant departments.

Dr Woodruff - A million people locked up.

Madam SPEAKER - Order, Dr Woodruff.

Mr HODGMAN - It is not uncommon for governments to ensure that we do what we can in addition to matters of concern relating to affairs in other countries but to support the exchange of trade -

Ms O'Connor - I bet you did not mention them.

Madam SPEAKER - Ms O'Connor, second warning.

Mr HODGMAN - and of cultural and educational opportunities, and to improve the lives of Tasmanians and Tasmanian businesses. That is why we go on trade missions like this. It is why we do enter into MOUs and agreements to improve relations.

The hypocrisy of the Greens, who have previously been a member of a government that struck MOUs - and there is one that was struck under a former government at a time when human rights concerns were certainly as prevalent as they are now - but oh, no, no, they were not then. These issues were not relevant -

Dr Woodruff - Say the words, Uyghur.

Madam SPEAKER - Dr Woodruff, order. Warning number one.

Dr Woodruff - Bob Brown speaking out on Tibet.

Madam SPEAKER - Warning number two, Dr Woodruff.

Mr HODGMAN - back when the Greens were part of a government that struck MOUs. The hypocrisy of it. You were quite happy when you were in government to be part of a government that had positive trade relationships with China, that struck MOUs, and that wanted to support advancements in areas like the Antarctic. You have spent the last week being highly critical of the Tasmanian Government supporting local businesses that are assisting our logistical capacities at the nation's Antarctic gateway. It is completely hypocritical and the hysterical and shrill antics of the Leader of the Greens makes Pauline Hanson look balanced.

Ms O'CONNOR - Point of order, Madam Speaker. Shrill is a word that is often used by male members in relation to female members. I ask the Premier not to use that kind of language in here.

Madam SPEAKER - Thank you. I am sure the Premier will take that on board.

Mr HODGMAN - If the member takes offence of course I will withdraw. I believe the undertones of the language that has been used by the Leader of the Greens over the last little while, not just the last week in this parliament, as I say makes Pauline Hanson look balanced. It is negatively impacting on people from China who come to live in Tasmania to enjoy our way of life and be part of our community.

Dr Woodruff - Like the Uyghur.

Ms O'CONNOR - Point of order, Madam Speaker. Standing Order 144 - Offensive words against a member. Pauline Hanson would not be in this Chamber defending Muslim minorities. I ask you to withdraw that statement.

Mr HODGMAN - Honestly, she can give it out but she cannot take it, the Leader of the Greens. Again, if she takes exception to that of course I will withdraw. However, I will also alert the Leader of the Greens to some observations from others about the sort of language and the narrative that she has been indulging in over the last week. The Multicultural Council of Tasmania, which the member would ordinarily support, said this, and I quote:

Recent contributions by some politicians singled out all migrants from particular backgrounds as posing a threat to good order and the strength of our democracy. Multiple studies have shown that when politicians use racial difference as a root cause for supposed threats, vilification and discrimination experienced by those members in the community immediately increases. MCOT strongly encourages all participants in this debate to remember this and debate facts -

Dr WOODRUFF - Point of order, Madam Speaker. I am not sure how this has any relevance to the question about whether the Premier accepts the atrocities which are occurring in China.

Madam SPEAKER - It is not a point of order.

Mr HODGMAN - I have addressed that issue and am now pointing to the fact there are people from China living in our state, wanting to enjoy a better life here, and you are making them feel miserable. They feel 'angry and hurt' by comments the Leader of the Greens has made. That is why I make the comments I do about her mode of operation on this matter but she has also made very damaging comments to people in Tasmania that this Government wants to support, who we are the beneficiaries of as a multicultural community and who are part of Tasmania's business, education and cultural strengths.

We have seen the true underbelly of the Greens exposed. Who would have ever thought we would see this lack of diversity, lack of tolerance and lack of appreciation for people from China who come to live in Tasmania from the Leader of the Greens? That is what we have seen.