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Don’t watch the CCP's Genocide Olympics

 

As the Beijing Winter Olympics officially kicks off tomorrow, athletes from around the globe will compete in a showcase of the very best of human athleticism. Simultaneously, approximately 2,800 km away from the snowfields, the ethnic minority Uyghurs face genocide in the remote Xinjiang province. One million languish in forced concentration camps, facing repression, “re-education”, forced labour, forced sterilisation and abortion, as well as sexual abuse and other crimes against humanity.

The Uyghur Tribunal, an independent tribunal established and chaired by International Criminal Court barrister Sir Geoffrey Nice QC, found in a landmark report that “On the basis of evidence heard in public, the tribunal is satisfied beyond reasonable doubt that the People’s Republic of China, by the imposition of measures to prevent births intended to destroy a significant part of the Uyghurs in Xinjiang as such, has committed genocide” and that “This vast apparatus of state repression could not exist if a plan was not authorised at the highest levels.” The BBC similarly documented severe human rights abuses in a report last year, including Uyghurs that had been “systematically raped, sexually abused, and tortured.”

A few days ago, Human Rights Watch released a statement with over 240 NGO’s stating that the Games “will open amid atrocity crimes and other grave human rights violations by the Chinese government.” 

Many nations, including Australia, the USA, the UK, Canada, Estonia, Latvia, Sweden, the Netherlands and Denmark, have committed to a diplomatic boycott of the Olympics due to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) Dictatorship’s human rights abuses. The White House, when announcing the USA’s boycott, cited “ongoing genocide and crimes against humanity in Xinjiang and other human rights abuses”.

The CCP dictatorship is not hosting the Games for its love for sport. It’s hosting it to manipulate the pageantry of one of the largest and most prestigious international events for its propaganda. It’s an opportunity to refresh its diplomatic engagement with the world after the period of “wolf warrior diplomacy” inflicted far greater damage than any of its supposed benefits. Chairman for Life Xi Jinping has since ordered his officials and diplomats to tone down the aggressive posturing, hoping to move the international needle toward a “credible, lovable and respectable image of China.” This is the same Chairman for Life who marked 100 years since the Communist Party’s founding with false and domestic propaganda that “The Chinese people have never bullied, oppressed, or enslaved the people of other countries. At the same time, the Chinese people will never allow any foreign forces to bully, oppress or enslave us. Anyone who dares try to do that will have their heads bashed bloody against a Great Wall of steel forged by over 1.4 billion Chinese people.”       

The Games has adopted the benign motto of “Together for a shared future”, but we know from the 2008 Games and the pageantry, media and player gags, increased repression and careful staging of one of the world’s biggest events that we are in for a repeat of 2008 but that it will be far worse.

The CCP Dictatorship may want a shared future, but it’s also a future that’s free from Uyghurs, house Christians, Falun Gong practitioners, Hong Kongers, Tibetans, dissidents and anyone else who speaks out in favour of fundamental freedoms.    

  Senator Abetz is the Chair of the Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Committee and a member of the Joint Parliamentary Committee on Intelligence and Security.

Media statement on Amnesty International report

The Chair and the Deputy Chair of the Australian Parliamentary Friends of Israel reject Amnesty International’s incorrect claims about Israel contained in its report released overnight. Israel’s own richly diverse and inclusive society — demonstrated on its streets and in its Knesset, where people of all nationalities and backgrounds mix freely — powerfully rebuts any attempt to equate it with South Africa’s brutal and evil apartheid regime.

Amnesty International’s report attempts to equate Israel’s efforts to the abhorrent historical practise of apartheid in South Africa. We fear this kind of framing could have the effect of lending support to Boycott, Sanctions and Divestment (BDS) campaigns against Israel, which have been condemned by the leadership of both sides of Australian politics as antisemitic.

The Chairs also note their disappointment at the insensitive and hurtful timing of the report’s release just days after the world commemorated International Holocaust Remembrance Day (IHRD). We note there has been an odious and continuous attempt by some to describe the Jewish state by reference to the Nazis. Equating it to the apartheid regime of South Africa is little better.

Amnesty does such good work, which we support. But pretending Tel Aviv in 2022 is like Cape Town in 1976 is demonstrably wrong and needs to be called out, without rancour, just sadness.

Senator Eric Abetz, Chair of the Parliamentary Friends of Israel, and Senator Kimberley Kitching, Deputy Chair, said:

“Amnesty International’s report is littered with errors that rehash discredited claims from other biased reports. It’s wrong in detail and disturbing in its intent.”

“Israel is a vibrant beacon of democracy in the Middle East, comprised of Jews and Arabs, Druze and Christians — both secular and religious — whose rights and liberties are protected in equal measure.”

“The misappropriation of hateful words does nothing to aid the peace process for a mutually negotiated and enduring two-state solution where Israel and a future Palestinian state can co-exist in peace and security. Both sides of Australian politics remain resolute in our support for a two-state solution.”

“We won’t help Israel or the Palestinians by pretending things are different from what they actually are in Israel or by encouraging delusions that the concept of the Jewish state can be crushed by external forces, be they military or trade. We need to loudly speak up for peace and human rights, in the Middle East and elsewhere, as these concepts are mutually dependent.”

Hobart’s Alphacrucis now fourth “University College” in Aus

Alphacrucis College, and its Hobart campus located in the heart of the CBD, has been registered by the national tertiary accrediting body, Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency (TEQSA).

Senator Abetz has long advocated for Alphacrucis to be recognised and registered with TEQSA as a University College.  

University Colleges are a specific classification within the tertiary system that have “mature and advanced processes for the design, delivery, accreditation, monitoring, quality assurance, review and improvement of courses of study, and the maintenance of academic integrity” and demonstrates “civic leadership through engagement with its communities and a commitment to social responsibility”.     

Liberal senator for Tasmania, Eric Abetz, said TEQSA’s decision to register the college was overdue recognition of its academic excellence.

“With a wide range of degrees and educational courses, Alphacrucis is well placed to serve the tertiary demands of Hobart and it comes with the quality assurance of being a newly minted University College.”

“I was pleased I could pursue TEQSA at Senate Estimates as to the refusal in registration for such a worthy institution and to see a positive outcome achieved.”

Alphacrucis College has around 4000 students enrolled around Australia in VET certificates, Bachelor, Masters and doctoral degrees across business, education and theology. With its new University College status, it is now the second-highest Higher Education provider in Tasmania (behind UTAS), providing a wide range of quality courses for all Tasmanians.

$216,000 grant to secure Hobart’s Synagogue

Australia’s oldest synagogue will be provided with extra security thanks to a federal Liberal Government grant of $216,000 for 14 CCTV cameras.

The funding made available under the Safer Community Grant scheme was announced and welcomed by Tasmanian Liberal Senator Eric Abetz.

“Given the recent rise in anti-semitic activity, it is good to see the extra protection being offered to this historic building and those who use it”, said Senator Abetz.

“The Safer Community Grant scheme is all about keeping our community safe. Given the recent rise in concerning anti-semetic activity it is right and proper that this extra security be provided and whilst disappointed that it is needed, I’m pleased we’ve been able to provide it”.

Tasmania hosts Australia’s two oldest synagogues (Hobart and Launceston) and has a rich Jewish history which is worthy of protecting.

 Senator Abetz is the Chair of the Australian Israel Parliamentary Friendship Group.

Aus must bar any links with CCP’s forced repatriation agency

The release of Safeguard Defenders findings into the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) Dictatorship’s global operation to force Chinese nationals home raises serious questions over Australia’s potential links to the CCP’s governmental body that carries out such illegal operations.

Safeguard Defenders is a human rights NGO founded in late 2016 that undertakes and supports local field activities that contribute to the protection of basic rights, promote the rule of law and enhance the ability of local civil society and human rights defenders in some of the most hostile environments in Asia, including China.

Safeguard Defenders report found that since the end of 2021, 10,000 Chinese were forcibly returned to China primarily by intimidating family members back in China, sending police and agents overseas on illegal missions to intimidate targets to return or, in extreme cases, kidnapping. According to a US intelligence source in the report, “some ten people had been directly kidnapped in Australia.”   

The National Supervision Commission (NSC), which oversees the forced repatriation programme, is a non-judicial organ of the CCP. The NSC has an active MOU with the Australian Federal Police (AFP). 

Liberal senator for Tasmania, Eric Abetz, said the report’s findings were disturbing, and the MOU with the NSC must be investigated to ensure Australia is not cooperating or unwittingly supporting the NSC with its illegal operations.

“The disturbing revelations in the report highlight the urgent need for greater scrutiny of foreign interference in Australia, particularly concerning the Australian Federal Police’s (AFP) MOU with the National Supervision Commission (NSC).

“The NSC is a Chinese Communist Party organ - not a foreign law enforcement agency – and given the AFP’s MOU with the NSC, Australia must urgently review its cooperation with this non-judicial organ that allegedly oversees involuntary repatriation, arbitrary detention, intimidation and kidnappings not only here in Australia, but all around the world. 

The Chinese diaspora must be given guarantees that Australia is not formally or informally in any way linked with these human rights abuses via its MOU with the NSC.”  

Senator Abetz is the Chair of the Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Committee and a member of the Joint Parliamentary Committee on Intelligence and Security.

Boycott of Sydney Festival ignorant and counterproductive

Several comedians and other performances are among 27 events that have ignorantly boycotted the Sydney Festival due to the Israeli Embassy providing $20,000 in sponsorship for the dance performance Decadance – created by Israeli choreographer Ohad Naharin.

Predictably, Hamas, the antisemitic terrorist organisation that has long engaged in military conflict against Israel and fervently wishes for its obliteration, recently came out in support of the boycott.

“We declare our solidarity with the participants who have withdrawn from the festival, and we call on all participants to raise their voices in the face of oppression and injustice,” said the organisation responsible for dozens of suicide bombings against the Israeli people and throwing opponents off high rise buildings.

When you have terrorists backing in your argument, you should know you have lost the argument and any moral authority.

One of the lead organisers absurdly said the sponsorship “…normalises human rights abuses and it allows Israel to gain publicity out of a cultural institution.” To believe that Israeli sponsorship of a dance performance “normalises human rights abuses” would be laughable if such a false and inflammatory opinion wasn’t taken so seriously by the boycotters.

The boycott adds nothing to the immensely complicated situation between Israel and Palestine. It displays ignorance of Israel and its people and what the Sydney Festival performance can achieve, including bringing people together from different nations and cultures.

Israel has a distinguished record of being a light in the idle east for democracy, the rule of law and human rights. The boycotters would be well served to honestly recognise these facts.

The boycott is a regrettable distraction from, and a profound ignorance of, the real efforts to bring peace and stability between Israel and Palestine. 

Senator Abetz is a Liberal Senator for Tasmania and Chair of The Parliamentary Friends of Israel

In pursuit of truth

“The first person to speak in court always seems right until his opponent begins to question him.”

We should hold onto this profound wisdom which is the foundation of the right to examine witnesses. It is found in the Good Book at Proverbs 18:17. The capacity to test evidence, probe assertions, and put forward counter propositions is the civilised, objective method by which we seek to find the truth. Perfect it is not, but it is still the fairest and the best route to truth – for the finding of facts, be it scientific or legal or the examination of history.

In a former life as a lawyer, this was often found to be the case.

Horrid allegations or strong emphatic denials made in the office collapsed under examination by prosecutors or opposing counsel.

Many examples spring to mind from criminal, civil, child protection, road accidents, and other areas of personal interactions which required a judicial determination.

That is why personally cross-examining clients in the office was conducted to test the assertions made and avoid wasting the court’s time and to provide a taste of what might be expected.

The right to examine an accuser is fundamental if justice is to prevail. Natural justice demands the right to defend oneself and test the accusations being made.

We need to protect this right for all of us, yet this cornerstone of our highly sophisticated judicial system is regrettably being eroded.

Too often in public discourse we hear the plea that to test the assertion would be to re-traumatise the victim. This is a real issue to which we must be sensitive, but to be fair we need to treat everyone the same. The accuser is not a victim nor the accused a perpetrator until the facts have been determined by an independent judicial body. Until such a determination is made, both accuser and accused must be treated with dignity and fairness.

The notion that we need to ‘believe the victim’ before their assertions are thoroughly tested does everyone a disservice. It suggests pre-judgment, bias, and favouritism.

Real life experience shows that accusers can tell untruths as can the accused – albeit it is more often that the accused is found wanting.

An unfortunate case which springs to mind relates to a woman’s allegations against a man. Without retelling the details, a robust cross-examination exposed the multiple flaws in her accusations and finally led to her acknowledging the falsity of her claims.

The mental anguish, alienation, and sheer hell the accused suffered prior to his name being cleared was indescribable.

The journey for the validated victim is undeniably similar. This is why both the accuser and the accused need to be treated equally with respect and fairness until the matter is resolved.

In recent times we have had commissions of inquiry or public pile-ons ruining peoples’ lives before the facts are actually established. Allowing people to tell unchallenged stories is not necessarily an exercise in truth-telling. It’s an exercise in storytelling – that’s all. Only after verification and testing can we value its validity.

Examples of the disservice of not testing evidence are the cases of Gunner and Cubillo. These two celebrated names were part of the “Bringing Them Home Report” which presented the two stories of indigenous people allegedly taken against parental will – the stolen generations. The cases, when actually tested in court, fell at the first hurdle with a wealth of documentary evidence contradicting what had been asserted.

Cases such as this then provide grist for the mill for those who would want to deny that there was any inappropriate placement of individuals by the authorities.

Testing recollections, seeking evidence which is contrary or provides an alternate perspective allows us to progress to the truth – be it in issues as diverse as interpersonal relations or science.

Those of us truly confident in our position should not be scared of having our view tested. If correct it galvanises our position. If found wanting the testing will hopefully help us modify our position.

Ultimately, genuine, fearless pursuit of truth does not care for an individual’s sensitivity or have regard to a person’s “offence” threshold.

Objective truth remains exactly that, objective truth. No amount of de-platforming, silencing, or oversensitivity can or will change the truth.

We need to cherish truth and the procedures by which we can objectively arrive at the truth.

Let’s hear it for The Shepherd Centre

“Hear, hear”.  It’s the Parliamentary interjection confirming your approval with what is being said.

Those words have emerged from the writer’s mouth many a time without reflecting on whether everyone can, in fact, hear.  Sure, having an aunt and a godmother who were deaf provided some insight but not as profoundly as a recent visit to The Shepherd Centre in Sydney.

The Centre self describes its purpose as “Giving deaf children a voice”.

The visit was prompted by a family – Shannon and Sarah Wells – who detailed The Shepherd Centre’s assistance to their son Flynn who required regular travel to Sydney.  The family were fortunate because they could afford the expense of travel.

Named after Dr Bruce Shepherd, the Centre has operated for over 50 years.  Dr Shepherd has two children with hearing impairment and he saw the need for the Centre which he established all those years ago.  It operates from eight sites around Australia with outreach services including to Tasmania.

Wouldn’t it be good if we could have a combination of philanthropic and government will to establish a centre or two in Tasmania to assist our 400 children (0-14 years) dealing with hearing loss.  That would provide a genuine happy new year to many parents and their hearing impaired children.

Who knew that hearing loss is the most common disability among children in the western world?  And here in Tasmania, only 10% of the more than 400 hearing impaired children are receiving specialist services.  (Even of those qualifying under the National Disability Insurance Scheme only one third are receiving specialist services.)

Put another way – a massive 90% of children (0-14 years) with hearing loss in Tasmania are not getting the essential support they need for a better life.

The support that is potentially available but not currently available places our young at risk of significant delays with language, development, literacy and social skills, as well as social and emotional isolation.

It makes sense that the earlier a child is able to access the right supports, the better the outcome, meaning a pathway for them to thrive and reach their full potential in life.  Hence the need for early intervention which The Shepherd Centre specialises in.

The vast majority of the beneficiaries of The Shepherd Centre go on to attend mainstream schools with listening and spoken language skills on par with their hearing peers.  It’s so doable, so achievable.

This wonderful, life-changing service should not be denied to our Tasmanian children.  Some Tasmanian families and children have advantaged themselves through The Shepherd Centre’s On-line Telehealth system and other outreach services making the Centre the largest provider of specialised services in our State.

This restricted access, whilst clearly better than nothing, is not the same as purpose-built facilities which would revolutionise the lives of many of our young Tasmanians.

We need $2.5m to establish such a service here in Tasmania in two physical facilities and presences – Launceston and Hobart.

The buildings would provide the necessary audio booth, therapy rooms, meeting rooms and play area together with a cochlear implant programme.

With a physical presence, The Shepherd Centre would work with our local Tasmanian organisations and services to establish high quality support for our families and children.

Annual assessments identify how children are developing in their speech (how they sound) and their language (the words they understand and use) in comparison to their hearing peers.  Information on children’s listening, social skills, play, thinking and literacy development is used by The Shepherd Centre team to guide individualised services.

Their teams use evidence based early intervention best practices, reviewing children’s programs every time they see them, in collaboration and partnership with their families.

Yes, the writer left The Shepherd Centre mega-impressed with what it does and what it could do four our children and their families in Tasmania.

A fifty-year reputation, which is a registered charity, NDIS approved service provider and has success stories by the thousands needs to be fully embraced by the Tasmanian community.

For information about The Shepherd Centre go to www.shepherdcentre.org.au.

Let’s bring The Shepherd Centre to Tasmania in 2022! 

Trusting we all respond in typical Tasmanian fashion and adopt the Parliamentary display of approval with a “Hear! Hear!” which goes beyond mere words but with action.

Australia should diplomatically boycott Winter Games like US

The United States has announced a diplomatic boycott of the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics due to human rights abuses, seeing the country’s athletes compete but without any diplomatic or official representation.

“The Biden administration will not send any diplomatic or official representation to the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics and Paralympic Games given the PRC’s (People’s Republic of China) ongoing genocide and crimes against humanity in Xinjiang and other human rights abuses,” White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said.

Liberal senator for Tasmania, Eric Abetz, said that with the United States formally announcing its diplomatic boycott it was essential that Australia follow suit and take a strong stand against the Chinese Communist Dictatorship’s litany of human rights abuses. The senator has led the charge for a diplomatic boycott of the Beijing Olympics, being the first federal parliamentarian to call for such a boycott.   

“The decision by the United States, our close ally and friend, to diplomatically boycott the Beijing Winter Olympics is a most welcome move and one in that Australia must follow suit. Australia must not be complacent but move with speed to demonstrate our long commitment to upholding human rights and calling out where they are breached.

“From the Uyghurs, organ harvesting from prisoners of conscience, slave labour, the Hong Kongers, the Tibetans, the Mongolians, the Dalai Lama, debt-trap diplomacy, the South China Sea Islands, religious and journalistic persecution to all other grave injustices committed by the CCP dictatorship means we must not give official representation at these Games.

“I particularly applaud the White House’s recognition of the ‘genocide and crimes against humanity in Xinjiang’ as far too often countries are unwilling to call out such horrendous human rights abuses against the Uyghur population.  

“We know from the 2008 Games and the propaganda, press crackdown and increased repression that it will undoubtedly occur again under the increasingly belligerent leadership of Xi Jinping.”

In an op-ed last September Senator Abetz called for a boycott, has done so on several occasions at Senate Estimates and in August this year gathered six of his fellow Coalition colleagues to sign a formal letter addressed to the Prime Minister and Minister for Sport, “calling on the Australian Federal Government to engage in a diplomatic boycott of the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics.”

Senator Abetz is the Chair of the Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Committee and a member of the Joint Parliamentary Committee on Intelligence and Security.

Scrapping Antarctic runway a huge disappointment

The decision to not proceed with the Antarctic runway is a huge disappointment, according to Tasmanian Liberal Senator Eric Abetz.

As it appears this is a final decision – and a retrograde decision at that, the task is to ensure that the funding predicated for the runway is made fully available for other Antarctic capabilities.

Tasmania’s world-renowned reputation as the gateway to the Antarctic will be questioned, as will our commitment, unless there is a strong unequivocal announcement of the preservation of the funding and the new focus of investment.

The overwhelming strategic and capability support the runway would have provided has been regrettably lost.  So, we now need to invest in other strategic and capability support infrastructure to ensure the international community cannot doubt our commitment to Antarctica.

At a time when China and Russia are rapidly expanding their footprints on the ice continent it is absolutely essential that we don’t loosen our foothold.

Hobart has been a highly regarded partner in Antarctic capacity building and we cannot let this reputation slip.

Senate speech: UTAS' Sandy Bay development needs scrutiny

For some time now, the University of Tasmania, with its own funds and extra taxpayer funding and support from the three tiers of government—local, state and federal—has been transferring from an idyllic park-like Sandy Bay campus into the inner city of Hobart. Whilst initially generally agnostic, if not slightly favourable to the proposal, I admit that I am beginning to harbour some real doubts.

The cost of the move, at hundreds of millions of taxpayers' dollars, is concerning. The aesthetics and surrounds of the move from the park-like campus to an asphalt, concrete inner-city site makes it less attractive. In recognition of this glaring deficiency, there is now talk about greening up aspects of the city. Again, it is right to ask at what cost and why, when a perfectly good site is already inhabited. During the term, with students in the city, there will be a rich coffee and McDonald's fast food economy. During the vacation, one assumes, the city will be a ghost town. The move into the city has seen the purchase of hotels for student accommodation, which will impact tourism accommodation, which in turn will see the conversion of rental properties into B&Bs, which will put extra pressure on our housing market.

One of the reasons for the move is to provide equity or ease of access to the campus by those from the northern suburbs. It is a very worthy concern, but would an enhanced public transport system help overcome that issue at a lot lower cost? For students from the south of the city, access will be commensurately more difficult. The Sandy Bay site and buildings are dated, but I am advised they are basically functional and capable of being retrofitted and upgraded. In raising these doubts I remain to be convinced and suggest a genuine, independent analysis be undertaken as to the effectiveness and appropriateness of the move.

About Eric

Eric Abetz has been a Liberal Senator for Tasmania since 1994 and has served in a range of Leadership, Ministerial and Shadow Ministerial roles.

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Senator.Abetz@aph.gov.au

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