30 October 2003

Hu visit inquiry

The Senate's Privileges Committee has decided to investigate claims that improper influence was used to exclude critics of the Chinese government from parliament during last week's speech by visiting Chinese President Hu Jintao

The Committee will also examine whether Greens Senator Kerry Nettle was jostled after she interrupted American President George W Bush's speech to parliament a day earlier.

Greens leader, Senator Bob Brown claims China insisted three of the party's invited guests be excluded from the public gallery during the Chinese President's speech.

Privileges Committee chairman Senator Robert Ray says Senator Brown's concerns will be impartially investigated.

I've been amazed that we're hearing so much about how embarrassing the Green stunt in parliament was to Australia, but absolutely nothing that it might affront our basic values that the Speaker apparently put in the boot at the urging of the Australian executive in order to please a couple of visiting presidents. I would have thought freedom to speak in parliament was a fairly basic value.

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