It is time to put talk into action: Aust Parliament speech by Jane Prentice MP (Ryan)

Hansard Transcript of  Speech given to the Australian Parliament House of Representatives on Monday November 21,  by Jane Prentice MP (Ryan), Liberal Party of Australia.

Mrs PRENTICE (Ryan) (10:42): Like others in this chamber I applaud the sentiment and goals expressed by President Obama in his address to the Australian parliament last week. His words do bear repeating, so I quote:

As two global partners, we stand up for the security and dignity of people around the world.

President Obama said that the larger purpose of his visit to this region was ‘our efforts to advance security, prosperity and human dignity across the Asia-Pacific’ and that ‘Asia will largely define whether the century ahead will be marked by conflict or cooperation, needless suffering or human progress’. He went on to say:

We stand for an international order in which the rights and responsibilities of all nations and people are upheld. … Every nation will chart its own course, yet it is also true that certain rights are universal. … As two great democracies we speak up for these freedoms when they are threatened. We partner with emerging democracies, like Indonesia, to help strengthen the institutions upon which good governance depends. This is the future we seek in the Asia Pacific — security, prosperity and dignity for all.

As I said in my maiden speech, in our region we have a particular responsibility to assist our developing friends, not in a patronising way but with a genuine hand of friendship and support. The developed world has not found a successful form of providing aid to our neighbours, in much the same way that we have much to learn in helping our own Indigenous Australians. In both cases we must persist, because if we fail we let our neighbours down—and, indeed, our first Australians.

I then went on to mention some of the many issues confronting our nearest neighbours. It is against this background that it is important that we acknowledge the respect for human rights that must be accorded to all people.

The people of West Papua are facing challenges that in many ways flow from colonial times, when lines were drawn on maps to suit the interests of colonial powers. As a country we have for more than 100 years been prepared to send our service men and women all over the world, not only into conflict situations but also as peacekeepers. Yet here, literally on our doorstep, we continue to turn a blind eye to the suffering of one of our nearest neighbours.

On that note, with everyone focused on the Asia-Pacific region, as President Obama said, we must stand up for the fundamental rights of every human being. In particular I look to our neighbours in West Papua. Mark my words, history will judge us very harshly. Indeed, we will stand condemned for our lack of action and our lack of compassion. I call on the government in its close partnership with President Obama to ensure basic human rights and freedoms for the people of West Papua. It is time to put talk into action.

Asia-Pacific Region
Monday, 21 November 2011

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