Monday, October 23, 2017

MOTIONS - West Papua Speaker : Di Natale, Sen Richard

Senate on 19/10/2017
MOTIONS - West Papua
Speaker : 
Di Natale, Sen Richard

Senator DI NATALE  (VictoriaLeader of the Australian Greens) (12:15): I ask that general business notice of motion No. 542 standing in my name for today, relating to the West Papuan people's petition, be taken as a formal motion.

The DEPUTY PRESIDENT: Is there any objection to this motion being taken as formal?

Senator DI NATALE:  In lieu of suspending standing orders, I seek leave to make a two-minute statement.

The DEPUTY PRESIDENT: Leave is granted for two minutes.

Senator DI NATALE:  The government has objected to this motion being taken as formal on the grounds that it's a foreign policy motion. It's interesting that, only two minutes ago, we passed a motion about the plight of the Rohingya people of Myanmar. It seems that this government uses this tactic whenever it is faced with an uncomfortable motion where its hypocrisy is exposed. It is remarkable that it uses this tactic to deny foreign policy motions that it doesn't like and, yet, it is quite happy to see foreign policy motions debated in this chamber when they take a position that it supports. It's rank hypocrisy and it needs to be exposed. In future, should the government adopt the same tactic, we will be moving to suspend standing orders—let us make that point absolutely clear.
This is a motion that deals with the petition of the West Papuan people. Nearly two million people have come together, representing 70 per cent of the population of West Papua, despite the fact that there were threats that people who signed this petition would be arrested and tortured. Almost two million people have signed a petition calling on the United Nations to allow a free vote for West Papuan independence. Of course, this is against the backdrop of persistent human rights abuses in West Papua. A number of people are political prisoners in West Papua, many of them having been imprisoned for many years for doing nothing other than unfurling the flag of independence. The media is denied access. We need to say to the government of Indonesia and, indeed, to the United Nations that self-determination is critical for all peoples and that the United Nations should investigate the human rights abuses that are occurring in the region immediately.

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