Today saw unique agreement on the floor of the Australian Senate with the Government and Opposition unanimously passing a Motion that calls on the Government to improve Australia’s human rights dialogue with Vietnam.
The Motion, moved by Queensland Labor Senator Mark Furner and Queensland Nationals Senator Ron Boswell, states:
I give notice that on the next day of sitting Senator Mark Furner and myself, Senator Ron Boswell, will move—That the Senate:
(a) Notes that:
(i) Since 2002, Australia and the Socialist Republic of Vietnam (the SRV) has held eight rounds of Dialogue on Human Rights;
(ii) The Executive Government, through the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, considers the improvement of the human rights situation in the SRV ‘a high priority of the Australian government’.
(b) Calls on the Australian Government to:
(i) Encourage the Minister to ensure parliamentary supervision of the Vietnam Human Rights Dialogue by appointing Members to take part in the Dialogue,
(ii) Encourage more active community awareness of the work of the Dialogue,
(iii) Ensure Australia’s overseas development aid to the SRV includes a focus on promoting human rights; and
“The passing of this Motion shows the strong unanimous parliamentary stance from both the Government and the Coalition that human rights violations in Vietnam, and any other region for that matter, will not go unnoticed,” Senator Boswell said.
The Motion passed on the same day Senator Boswell presented an online community petition, which has amassed over 55,000 signatures in two months, to the Senate.
“The Motion and petition are just a few of the many actions Australia has taken to improve human rights in Vietnam. Australia will not stand idly by while innocent human rights advocates are unjustly detained and persecuted,” Senator Boswell said.
Earlier in the day, Senator Boswell and Senator Furner were joined by Liberal MPs Craig Kelly and the Hon. Phillip Ruddock on the front lawn of Parliament, where they addressed a crowd of over 200 supporters of the petition.
Senator Boswell congratulated President of the Vietnamese community in Australia Mr. Tri Vo and Vice-President Mr. Cong Le for the petition’s outstanding result, and stressed the significance of his and Senator Furner’s Senate Motion.
“It’s rare to get both sides of government to agree on something. It goes to show Australia’s strong commitment to human rights and to the strong and brave people of Vietnam,” Senator Boswell said.
Video of the motion passing in the Senate.