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Australian Govt must follow NSW to reject Burma's sham election

The Federal Government must follow the lead of the NSW parliament which today passed a Greens motion to refuse to accept the results of the up and coming Burmese elections unless all political prisoners are unconditionally released.

The Australian Greens recently applauded the Commonwealth Government's support for the investigation of options to establish a United Nations commission of inquiry into war crimes and crimes against humanity in Burma.

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Australia takes first step toward UN Commission of Inquiry on Burma rights abuses

The Federal Government has taken a lead internationally by agreeing to "investigate possible options for the establishment of a United Nations commission of inquiry" into war crimes and crimes against humanity in Burma.

"The Australian Greens have been calling on the Government to take this step for more than a year, and this is extremely welcome news," Greens Senator Scott Ludlam said today.

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Situation in Eastern Burma

Senator LUDLAM (Western Australia) (4.05 pm)-I move:

That the Senate-

(a) notes that:

(i) 9 March is an international day of action to raise awareness about the new military offensive against Karen civilians by the Burmese Army in Karen State, eastern Burma,

(ii) since mid January 2010 more than 2 000 civilians have been forced to flee new attacks in eastern Burma with villagers being shot on sight, more than 70 homes have been destroyed, schools and health clinics burnt down and the blocking of aid to people hiding in the jungle,

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Time for Australia to cut lifeline of Burma’s oppressive regime

Greens Senator Scott Ludlam is calling on the Australian Government to work with other governments to establish a UN commission of inquiry to investigate crimes against humanity and war crimes being committed in Burma.

His motion to the Senate tomorrow will also seek to ensure that Australian companies with links to Burma's oil and gas industry are not contributing to the financial stability of the military regime.

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Australian businesses investing in Burma


Senator LUDLAM (Western Australia) (4.55 pm)-by leave-I move: That the Senate take note of the statement on Current developments in Burma.

I rise to make some very brief remarks on the ministerial statement that was tabled by the Minister for Foreign Affairs on 8 February relating to current developments in Burma. A little bit of time has elapsed since then.

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AUSAID on Burma

Senator LUDLAM-I would like to address the issue of our work in Burma. I said this earlier when we had the department at the table but I will repeat it. I want to put my acknowledgement and support on the record for the lifting of our aid budget to Burma-in the minister's speech of 8 February. Can you give us a bit of an idea of where this sits within our priorities, at least funding wise? The minister has indicated we are taking our total aid budget to around $50 million a year. Where does that place it within the relative range of aid to different parts of the world?

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Defence on Burma

Senator LUDLAM-I have issues that range across a number of different area and, potentially, portfolios as well. I understand Senator Johnston touched on the issue of exercise Milan and put some questions to you, CDF. The questions that I want to raise will probably eventually stray into policy, Minister, so I am just letting you know.

Senator Faulkner-No problem, Senator.

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DFAT on Burma

Senator Faulkner-Senator Ludlam, you do have some questions on North Asia?

Senator LUDLAM-Yes.

Senator Faulkner-The secretary has just told me that the head of the North Asia Division will be joining us shortly. If you are comfortable with this, could we perhaps come back to it as soon as the relevant official is with us?

CHAIR-We can come back to North Asia.

Senator LUDLAM-That is fine, Chair.

Senator Faulkner-If you could accommodate that, I would really appreciate it, Senator.

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Trip to the Thai Burma border

Senator LUDLAM (Western Australia) (7.11 pm)-I would like to speak briefly on a very different matter and make a couple of remarks this evening about a trip that a colleague, Felicity Hill, and I took very early this year to the Thai-Burma border to a small community called Mae Sot, which is a regional city very close to the Burma border. It is the location of what is called the Thai-Myanmar Friendship Bridge and is one of the major crossing points between Thailand and Burma.

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