Peter Khalil: I rise in solidarity with Chilean Australians and their brothers and sisters in Chile over the decision over a month ago to call in the riot police and national army in a violent and repressive response to peaceful protests from Chileans standing up for something as basic as public transport fares. They were standing up for the right to fair wages, a pension, to make the basic cost of living and for a fundamentally fairer and more equal distribution and share of their nation’s economic wealth. We know that one per cent of Chileans have 33 per cent of the wealth. I know that, for many Chilean Australians, what is happening in Chile right now must be a horrible reminder of the violence they themselves or their parents or grandparents had to flee from when they fled the Pinochet regime decades ago. Just as prime ministers Gough Whitlam and Hawke supported Chilean Australians fleeing the Pinochet regime in the seventies and eighties, we are here also in solidarity with Chilean Australians.
Peaceful protest and freedom of association are fundamental principles of any democracy. We, as a democratic nation, must stand up and speak for these principles. We must stand up for those principles. If we don’t, who will? We recognise the ongoing violence and political instability in Chile. We call and we hope that the Chilean government includes civil society, unions, indigenous peoples in the work towards a new constitution to try and stabilise the country. We stand in solidarity with all Chilean Australians who are suffering right now.