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PRIVATE MEMBERS’ BUSINESS - Religious Minorities - Speech

Mr CADMAN (Mitchell) (12.57 p.m.)—I ask leave of the House to amend notice No. 2, private members’ business, in the terms circulated to honourable members. Leave granted.

Mr CADMAN—I move notice No. 2 as amended:

That this House:

commends Australians of Greek and Turkish origin for the peaceful and harmonious relationship they have established in Australia which is an example to all communities coming from older cultures;
recognises, with appreciation, the past endeavours of the Hon. Bill Hayden and in the current efforts of Australia’s Special Envoy on Cyprus the Hon. Jim Short and their contribution towards improving relationships between the Turkish Cypriot and Greek Cypriot communities to bring about the reunification of the island of Cyprus;
requests the Government of the Republic of Turkey, as it moves towards joining the European Union as a full member, to:
return private property to minority groups of all religious backgrounds and to allow the freedoms of settlement and property throughout Cyprus;
permit the re-opening of the Greek Orthodox Theological College on the island of Halke; and
permit Christian denominations to operate seminaries of their own, whether Greek, Armenian or Syriac; and
encourage all parties, including the Turkish Government and the Government of the Republic of Cyprus, to work together with the United Nations and the European Union to ensure a lasting solution in which all Cypriots enjoy the economic, political and security benefits of the EU in a united, democratic, just Cyprus.
I have decided to amend my original motion in order not to involve the sensitivities of the Australian community, particularly those who arrived here from Turkey or Greece. Australia has a friendly relationship with Cyprus, Greece and Turkey, and that has been the case for a long time. We are conscious that we have made a very strong contribution to relieving the tensions within the Mediterranean and particularly within Cyprus. We want to pay tribute to two Australians who have assisted in the process.

Since the invasion of northern Cyprus by Turkey in 1974, this issue has been a consistent, festering problem. It is a particular problem for religious groups, particularly the Orthodox Church, and for parties, people and families with properties in northern Cyprus. This is a wonderful opportunity for the government of the Republic of Turkey to take steps to resolve some of these issues. It has been a tradition for Australia—and currently we observe the Australian military in East Timor—to move in, resolve a problem and move out. If there were problems which caused or brought about the invasion in 1974, it is time that those matters are put aside and that the people of Cyprus, who lived in harmony, are once more given the opportunity of reunification. Nothing could be more opportune. Nothing could be more valuable. Nothing could enhance the reputation of Turkey more at the moment. Taking this step will ease Turkey’s entry into Europe and enhance its global reputation for the treatment of minority groups.

I wish to acknowledge the work that was done by the Hon. Bill Hayden some years ago and the work currently being done by the Hon. Jim Short. The representatives of the Cypriot and Turkish governments, of course, have been interested in this motion, and I wish to express my personal goodwill to the peoples from both of those countries who have settled in Australia. I encourage the Turkish parliament to pass the proposed reform of the Turkish foundation law and applaud the opportunity for Christian groups to resume the operation of their religious training centres, something that is dear to the hearts of all of those people in the region. (Time expired)

The SPEAKER—Is the motion seconded?

Author: Hon Alan Cadman MP
Source: House Hansard - 29th May 2006
Release Date: 22 Jun 2006


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