Media Releases

Vale Senator Kimberley Kitching

Senator Kitching will be remembered as a hardworking, well-researched and particularly well-informed contributor to all matters foreign affairs and defence. 

As the respective chairs of the Senate’s Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade legislation and references committees, I worked exceptionally closely with Senator Kitching. I saw firsthand the qualities that made her an outstanding contributor to these fields. Her work and speech on the Magnitsky legislation was a standout. Her personable disposition and keen sense of humour allowed for a pleasant and exceptionally productive relationship. 

Her loss will be deeply felt by all senators and many in the foreign affairs and communities.

I extend my personal condolences to her family.

$804 million investment in Antarctic welcomed

Tasmanian Liberal Senator Eric Abetz, a long-time advocate for Tasmania being the gateway to the Antarctic, has welcomed the significant new investment announced by the Prime Minister.

“This exciting, forward-thinking announcement will cement Tasmania’s position as a world-renowned Antarctic gateway.

“The sum being invested is substantial in anyone’s language. It will help grow the Antarctic job base in Tasmania across all sectors, from logistics to detailed scientific endeavour.

“From the 1970s when the Antarctic Division was moved to Kingston, the Liberals have consistently grown the taxpayer investment in Tasmania. This means jobs, and a burgeoning international reputation for our State.

‘I’m absolutely delighted that the commitment to all matters Antarctic is not only being continued but is dramatically expanding,” Senator Abetz said.

Abetz confirms Anglesea Barracks will not be sold off

Eric Abetz, Liberal Senator for Tasmania, has confirmed that Defence will not sell off Hobart’s historic Anglesea Barracks at a Senate Estimates hearing. 

Senator Abetz, who for nearly a decade has advocated for the Government not to sell off the barracks, asked Defence officials for an update and was told that “Anglesea Barracks is not being divested” and that “We are investing in the property and for your information, more broadly across Tasmania this financial year, we’re spending $17.5 million in new infrastructure investment across a range of sites.”

 “The multimillion-dollar investment announced by the Federal Liberal Government for Anglesea Barracks will ensure the Barracks continues to provide a safe and functional environment for base personnel by significantly upgrading its infrastructure and facilities,” said Senator Abetz said.

“After fighting the bureaucracy for many years to keep Anglesea Barracks from being sold off, I’m most pleased any potential sale is firmly off the agenda as confirmed by Defence officials today at Senate Estimates.”

“Confirmation that the barracks’ future is no longer in no man’s land is a win for our defence forces and our local Hobart landmark.”  

Abetz calls for Auditor General probe into UTAS move

Liberal Senator for Tasmania, Eric Abetz, has addressed the organisation Save UTAS and concerned Hobartians at the official launch of a petition to Hobart City Council against the severe overreach of the University of Tasmania’s (UTAS) move to the CBD expansion plan ‘Reimagine Sandy Bay’.

The senator has also written to the Auditor General over the university’s proposal, enquiring that while:

…many valid arguments have been raised as to the wisdom of such a move on planning and educational grounds, I seek your assessment of the value for money of the proposed move and the sustainability and visibility of the funding model which is consuming substantial sums of taxpayer dollars which find their genesis from the Federal Government and fee-paying students under the HEC Scheme.

Speaking in the Senate in November, Senator Abetz was the first public figure to question the university’s plan for Sandy Bay, and said the university’s plan was bereft of public consultation, costs hundreds of millions of dollars and could end up causing more problems than it solves.

“There has been a severe lack of consultation with nearly every stakeholder, from locals to businesses to university students and staff. The most impacted – and many are here today are owed a better plan for their neighbourhood.    

“The cost of the move is concerning, estimated in the hundreds of millions of dollars and it raises more questions than answers, not least being is it pertinent to shift vast amounts of infrastructure when a refit would be more appropriate?

“The university must rescind this plan and go back to the drawing board. ‘Reimagine Sandy Bay’ needs more consultation and less imagination.

“There has been an excessive amount of talk and PR about town planning, cars, green spaces etc. but not so much on research and educational outcomes which must surely be the priority consideration.”

The petition will likely gather enough signatures that Hobart City Council will host a public meeting regarding the petition.  

Gov funding to make Glenorchy priority projects a reality

The Federal Liberal Government is investing $1,157,806 in priority projects across Glenorchy, supporting local jobs, businesses and the resilience of local economies to help communities bounce back from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Made possible under the third phase of the Federal Government’s $2.5 billion Local Roads and Community Infrastructure (LRCI) program, projects to be delivered by Glenorchy Council include:

$130,000 for Audio Visual System at the KGV Community Function Room

$120,000 towards the construction of the Montrose Skate Park

$282,806 for lighting installation at the Shoobridge Park Sports Ground

$625,000 for Tolosa Park Dam reintegration works.

Local Liberal Senator Eric Abetz said the funding reflects Glenorchy Council’s top priorities and will ensure the needs of the local communities continue to be met.

“With the challenges presented by COVID-19, the past couple of years have been tough for communities, businesses and local councils,” Senator Abetz said.

“That’s why we have moved quickly to approve funding for these projects across Glenorchy, paving the way for shovels to hit the dirt to make them a reality.

“This will provide a vital boost for our local communities, backing local jobs and economic growth while delivering lasting upgrades that will benefit residents for years to come.”

“A key component of this program is to get councils to use local businesses and workforces to deliver these projects as much as possible, ensuring this stimulus flows directly into the hands of hard-working Tasmanians, their families, their businesses and their communities.

“I look forward to seeing more projects get underway and supporting jobs and communities at this critical time,” concluded Senator Abetz.

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.

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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Contact

136 Davey Street
Hobart  TAS  7001
(primary office)

(03) 6224 3707

48 Cecilia Street
St Helens  TAS  7215
(satellite office)

(03) 6376 1972

Senator.Abetz@aph.gov.au

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