UPDATE: Mr Howard and Mr Rudd May Meet Dalai Lama
Both Prime Minister John Howard and Opposition Leader Kevin Rudd are now checking their diaries to see whether they can schedule meetings with the Dalai Lama.
ATC Chair George Farley said that he was delighted that the Prime Minister and the Opposition Leader were now intending to meet the Dalai Lama.
The apparent change of heart follows a furious 24 hours of media coverage of the issue, with responses on talkback radio, online polls and blogs clearly demonstrating enormous public support for meetings between political leaders and the Dalai Lama.
‘Mindful of international sensitivities’
The media flurry was initiated by Greens Senator Bob Brown when he released a letter from Senate President Paul Calvert, refusing to hold an official reception for the Dalai Lama when he is in Canberra. In the letter Senator Calvert said: “unfortunately, as I am sure you will understand, I have to be mindful of international sensitivities”.
The All Party Parliamentary Group for Tibet will hold an unofficial reception for the Dalai Lama at Parliament House. MPs attending the event include the Group’s Chair Labor MP Michael Danby, Liberal Peter Slipper, Australian Democrat Natasha Stott Despoja and of course Senator Brown.
Council Sparks Controversy
In Melbourne, controversy has erupted over Melbourne City Council representation at the forum being organised by Australia Tibet Council and the Castan Centre for Human Rights at Monash University on June 8. Lord Mayor John So was sent an official invitation to the event. Initially, the Lord Mayor’s office advised ATC that Cr So himself would not be able to attend, but that another Councillor might be able to attend in his place. We later received another phone call saying that no one would be attending.
However, it has since emerged that other Councillors were not made aware of the invitation. Greens Councillor Fraser Brindley will now attend the event on behalf of the Council.
There is now also pressure on the State Premiers, none of whom had previously agreed to meetings, to change their attitude.
For the latest news on this, check here: http://www.atc.org.au/content/view/325/28/