HON ALISON XAMON (North Metropolitan) [6.21 pm]: I rise to make a short statement on behalf of the Greens in solidarity with the Philippine trade union movement. Last month, I met with Mr Elmer “Bong” Labog, the chairperson of Kilusang Mayo Uno, the Filipino trade union movement, and the KMU international officer, Ms Meryl Quero-Asa. They were here as part of a delegation being sponsored by Union Aid Abroad–APHEDA to draw to the attention of state Parliaments in Australia, as well as the federal Parliament, what is happening in the Philippines around the violation of human rights for unionists. The Filipino unionists are organising to defend workers’ rights when the Duterte regime is imposing what is an extraordinarily brutal crackdown on union members, officials and leaders. Unfortunately, since the rise to power of President Duterte, more than 43 union members and officials have been killed as a result of extrajudicial violence. They want very much to bring this to the attention of Australian Parliaments in the hope that Australia will put some pressure on the Duterte government to address this diabolical situation.

They call on the Australian government in particular to immediately audit the enhanced defence cooperation program and also to look at any other security arrangements that it may have in conjunction with the Philippines to ensure that it is not inadvertently building the capacity of Filipino security forces to undertake the sort of repression that is currently being exercised against unions and which is contributing to other human rights violations. As I say, the unionists are particularly concerned about the killing and persecution of union members and officials and the climate of fear that this is creating within the Philippines. They are concerned that union leaders and members are being spied upon and also being portrayed as terrorists and being arrested. They are looking for governments to guarantee the security and safety of all union members and leaders and to have the fundamental workers’ rights of the International Labour Organization upheld.

They have asked for the ILO high-level tripartite mission to be able to undertake its investigations in May this year unimpeded by the government. On behalf of the Greens, through this state Parliament—I am sure I will be doing it in conjunction with others—I call on the federal government to please show solidarity with the Filipino trade unions. I am very concerned at the deteriorating human rights situation and I hope that all pressure can be put on the government to ensure that people are no longer living under threat and losing their lives.


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