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Rudd snub, but Victoria welcomes Dalai Lama

December 7, 2009


December 6, 2009

HE may have been snubbed by Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, but the Dalai
Lama will be warmly welcomed to Victoria's Parliament House on Wednesday
for a special talk to MPs.

In a coup for the State Parliament, the talk will be the spiritual
leader's only address at an Australian parliament on this visit.

The Dalai Lama will talk to all interested MPs in one of Parliament's
committee rooms, but his speech will not be open to the public.

MPs were notified yesterday of the unpublicised visit, which has been
organised by the informal group Victorian MPs for Tibet. Its chair,
Liberal upper house member Ed O'Donohue, said the group was looking
forward to welcoming the Buddhist leader.

Then premier Steve Bracks met with the Dalai Lama in May 2002 but not on
a later visit in 2007.

The spiritual leader last gave a talk at Parliament in 1992 when he
spoke at Queen's Hall and was welcomed by then Legislative Council
president Alan Hunt and Speaker Ken Coghill.

Chinese officials discourage Australian leaders from hosting the Dalai
Lama, so meeting with the religious leader is often a fraught
opportunity for many politicians.

Mr Rudd has declined to meet with the Dalai, saying that senior
representatives of the Government would meet with him instead. Earlier
in the year, Labor and Coalition senators and independent Steve Fielding
blocked a motion by the Greens and Independent Nick Xenophon to invite
the Dalai Lama to sit in the Senate's distinguished-visitors' gallery
during this visit.

The chairman of the Tibet Parliamentary Friendship Group, Michael Danby,
said no formal offer to host the Dalai Lama in Canberra was made this
time because the capital city was not on his agenda.

About 10 federal MPs are expected to meet him on Thursday.

Premier John Brumby was unlikely to attend the talk on Wednesday and had
not arranged to meet with the Dalai Lama, a spokesman said.

The Premier has met him twice previously.
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