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Concerns raised over Senate diaspora inquiry featured in Lawyers Weekly and on Q & A

12 Nov 2020 9:56 AM | John Arthur (Administrator)

Concerns raised over Senate diaspora inquiry, by Tony Zhang, 11 November 2020, Lawyers Weekly 

Community bodies and advocates have raised concerns over questions asked of three witnesses who appeared before the Senate foreign affairs, defence and trade references committee at a hearing concerning “issues facing diaspora communities in Australia”.

Last week, the Senate committee examining issues facing diaspora communities in Australia heard from Yun Jiang, Osmond Chiu and Wesa Chau, who told the inquiry many Chinese Australians feel intimidated in speaking out on issues concerning their community and their country.

Following their opening statements, 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 AALA stated it is not apparent that the same, or similar, question was put to any other witness appearing before the committee.

Molina Asthana, national vice-president of the Asian Australian Lawyers Association said the AALA supports the right of all Australians (including their elected representatives) to free speech perhaps more so in Parliament or in parliamentary committees.

“However, we strongly advocate 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,” the AALA stated.

Q&A covered the issue. Here's a facebook link to the question put by Osmond Chiu and the response by Jan Fran.

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