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Tuesday 22 Aug 2017 | 08:09 | SYDNEY
Tuesday 22 Aug 2017 | 08:09 | SYDNEY

Human rights: Everyone's watching

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COMMENTS

5 May 2011 13:23

Via Fergus Hanson comes the latest DFAT questions on notice, including this pearler from Senator Ludlam:

Q. What kind of issues did the Chinese delegates raise with Australia during the latest human rights dialogue?

A. The Chinese delegation raised the following issues with Australia: Changes to shared-parenting laws (2006 amendment to the Commonwealth Family Law Act 1975). Male-female wage gap. Attacks on international students. Visas for international students. Rights of Indigenous Australians.

China is naturally seeking to deflect some attention from its own record, so we could put down Chinese concerns about human rights in Australia to defensiveness if not a sense of mirth.

However, it neatly demonstrates the irrelevancy of the distinction between domestic and foreign affairs. If Australia is to successfully press China on human rights, then it needs good defences for international concerns about its own behaviour. And it is far easier for China to discover Australia's dirty laundry than it is for us to know theirs.

If we as an activist middle power want to be persuasive on the world stage, the consistency of our own behaviour, at home as well as abroad, is critical.

Photo by Flickr user David Maddison.

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