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Estimates: Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Legislation Committee (Cambodia)

Lee questions a representative from Reconstruction and Development in the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade about the possible negative effects of Cambodia's Law on Associations and Non-Governmental Organization on any of the NGOs or volunteer organisations we partner with.

CHAIR: ...We go to Senator Rhiannon.

Senator RHIANNON: DFAT's 2015 to 2018 aid investment plan for Cambodia highlights a role of NGOs as 'important partners given their expertise, on-the-ground networks and experience working with local communities'. In light of this, has Cambodia's 2015 Law on Associations and Non-Governmental Organizations affected the status or operations of any of the NGOs or volunteer organisations we partner with?

Mr Chittick: More broadly, my understanding is that the law has not had a material impact on NGO activity in Cambodia at this stage, given that it relates largely to activities in election periods, but I will take it on notice to provide you with specific information on NGO partners of the Australian government.

Senator RHIANNON: You said 'material impact', so, when you take it on notice, could you identify any impacts at all, please.

Mr Chittick: I will.

Senator RHIANNON: Thank you. Has the government through the minister and/or the ambassador made representations to the Cambodian government regarding the potential negative impact of the law on Cambodia's development and civil society?

Mr Chittick: We have an ongoing discussion through our embassy and through visiting delegations with the government of Cambodia on a range of human rights issues. I do not have any specific information in my briefing about this specific aspect, so I am happy to take that specific aspect on notice, but we have an ongoing dialogue with the government of Cambodia on human rights issues more broadly.

Senator RHIANNON: Thank you. Could you take this specific issue on notice: are you aware of other international donors who may have made formal representations regarding this law?

Mr Chittick: I am aware through media reporting that a number of other donors have, including the European Union, but I do not have the full specific list with me, so I will be very happy to take that on notice.

Senator RHIANNON: Has Australia undertaken any formal reviews or evaluations about current assistance to Cambodia's electoral authorities?

Mr Chittick: Again, I have to take the specifics of that on notice.

Senator RHIANNON: Could you please set out, when you take it on notice, what has been achieved. The question was: has Australia undertaken any formal reviews or evaluations and, in that context, what has been achieved if they been undertaken?

Mr Chittick: I can refer you to the aid program performance report for Cambodia that is on our website. That presents detailed information on performance on all of our projects. Can you just bear with me for a moment.

Senator RHIANNON: So is it particularly about the work of Cambodia's electoral authorities?

Mr Chittick: Yes. I cannot find the specific reference at this stage. I will take that on notice.

 

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