2011 International Day of Peace
Senator LUDLAM (Western Australia) (16:22): I move:
That the Senate-
(i) that on 7 September 2001, the United Nations (UN) General Assembly passed Resolution 55/282 declaring that the International Day of Peace should be observed annually on the fixed date of 21 September, as a day of global ceasefire and non-violence,
(ii) that UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon has urged member states to support the observance of global ceasefire, and
(iii) that the slogan chosen by the UN for the 2011 marking of the day is 'Peace=Future' drawing particular attention to the impact of armed conflict on children and that the world's concerns will soon be in their hands;
(b) supports non-government organisations in Australia who intend to observe the day through vigils, concerts and walks; and
(c) calls on the Australian Government to:
(i) promote the observance of a global ceasefire for the duration of 21 September, and
(ii) support the observation of a ceasefire by not engaging in hostilities for the duration of 21 September, unless provoked to do so in self-defence.
The Senate divided. [16:23]
Senator LUDLAM (Western Australia) (16:30): I do not normally do this, but-by leave-I will make a brief statement. I suspect we will hear something reasonably similar from Senator Abetz shortly.
I think this is incredibly sad. This was a fairly innocent motion, and none of the caveats that Senator Farrell just read onto the record apply. All we are seeking to do here is give peace a chance, as it were. On 7 September 2001 the UN General Assembly passed resolution 55/282 declaring that the International Day of Peace should be observed annually on the fixed date of 21 September as a day of global ceasefire and nonviolence. Senator Farrell made it sound as though he was concerned to hear the Senate calling for Australian troops to sit on their hands while they were shot at in any number of the war zones we are engaged in at the moment.
Of course, the motion does no such thing. It calls on the government to 'support the observation of a ceasefire by not engaging in hostilities for the duration of 21 September, unless provoked to do so in self-defence'. I would not have thought it was too much to ask for one day to remind this chamber that we have put people in harm's way and that we are a country at war at the moment, and to perhaps take today to not engage in acts of aggression in any of the places where that might be possible. Of course, mostly our thoughts go to Afghanistan.
It was extremely ironic that most senators-in fact, the entire chamber-were entirely content to vote for the motion until the President, of all people, drew to their attention the fact that it might actually mean something. At that point they abashedly shuffled over to the other side of the chamber to crush it. I think that is a sad state of affairs, and I urge the Senate to reconsider. Next year, on 21 September 2012, we will move a motion similar to this one to remind senators that there are people in conflict zones in our name at the moment who should be brought home.