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AALA Statement on Senate Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade References Committee Hearing on 14 October 2020 – “Issues facing diaspora communities in Australia”

11 Nov 2020 11:24 AM | John Arthur (Administrator)

The Asian Australian Lawyers Association (AALA) is dedicated to celebrating and advancing diversity in the Australian legal profession, and for expanding professional and cultural opportunities for all Asian Australian and all Australian legal practitioners in Australia and in the Asia-Pacific region.

The AALA expresses its concern over a question that was asked of three witnesses who appeared before the Senate Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade References Committee on 14 October 2020 at a hearing concerning “Issues facing diaspora communities in Australia”.

Hansard records that the following question was put to the three witnesses with Chinese/East Asian sounding names by a member of the committee:

“(c)an I ask each of the three witnesses to very briefly tell me whether they are willing to unconditionally condemn the Chinese Communist Party dictatorship? It's not a difficult question”.

The reference to the Hansard record can be found here.

It is not apparent that the same, or similar, question was put to any other witness appearing before the Committee.

Each of the three witnesses in responding to the question shared their opinion on how they felt about being questioned in that manner (which can be found here).

AALA supports the right of all Australians (including their elected representatives) to free speech perhaps more so in parliament or in parliamentary committees. However, AALA strongly advocates that all members of the Australian community should be accorded with the core Australian values of natural justice, fairness, equality and a ‘fair go’; and that persons of Asian ancestry (or any other ancestry) are not subjected to processes and inquiries inconsistent with those values in Australian public life and before any governmental and representative bodies. Australia must be a level playing field.

AALA urges all members of the community, including our parliamentary representatives, to adhere to our core Australian values and our shared commitment to those values. AALA also calls on all members of the community to demand and claim their right to speak out and engage with the institutions and bodies of civil society to maintain and build on our uniquely Australian dedication to justice, fairness, tolerance, equality and a ‘fair go’.

Further inquiries may be made to the AALA by email or by contacting Molina Asthana at 0400785299.

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