Mr HAYES (Fowler—Chief Opposition Whip) (13:32): I congratulate the member for Hotham for arranging a meeting of the Vietnamese community here in Parliament House today to discuss human rights. I particularly welcome Paul Nguyen, the President of the VCA, and all his delegation. I thank them for their longstanding commitment to freedom, democracy and respect for human rights.
I am privileged to represent one of the largest Vietnamese communities in the country. This has given me the opportunity to learn much about the Vietnamese community, particularly about their struggle for the recognition of human rights in their homeland. In Vietnam today, the government maintains a monopoly of political power, supported by a justice system that fails to consistently apply the rule of law. I am pleased, however, to learn that the Vietnamese authorities have released prominent human rights lawyer Nguyen Van Dai and his colleague Le Thu Ha. Both are now living in exile. I'm also happy to learn from the Australian embassy this week that Tran Huynh Duy Thuc, who has been on a hunger strike protesting the treatment of prisoners in Vietnam, has ended his hunger strike and is now being cared for. It still remains a concern that four members of the Brotherhood for Democracy, as well as a blogger commonly known as Mother Mushroom, remain in prison serving very lengthy prison sentences on charges of violating vague national security laws. I will continue to take an active interest in the matters and work with the Vietnamese community and the Australian authorities seeking the realisation of human rights in Vietnam.