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 Whistleblowers Need Protection


Shock ads used to warn of China deals

By Amanda O'Brien, The Australian
June 02, 2009

MILLIONAIRE businessman Ian Melrose has no qualms about using images of the bloody 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre in blunt advertisements aired last night, warning the Rudd Government not to let China take control of Australian resources.

As a row broke out with the West Australian Government, Mr Melrose said that governments had become too close to China and were ignoring its human rights abuses to get money and economic gains.

"All those brave and honourable politicians and businessmen who say you shouldn't mix human rights with politics, if they were next in line for the firing squad because they'd spoken up against the Chinese Government, or they were next to go into the torture room, having heard other people screaming, they'd change their position instantly," he told The Australian.

He said the move by Chinese government-owned Chinalco to lift its stake in Rio Tinto to 18 per cent was the last straw and he had to make a stand. The Foreign Investment Review Board is due to make a decision within weeks. Premier Colin Barnett yesterday slammed the television advertisements and warned they could damage Australia's relationship with the superpower, which is the nation's biggest export market.

Mr Barnett said the Tiananmen Square massacre was low point in modern China's history but it should be allowed to move forward as a modern economy.

"To try to tie links between that violation of student rights, and a proposal for Rio Tinto to develop a partnership with Chinalco, I think is just drawing a bow that doesn't exist. It will do it (our relationship) no good at all," he said.

But Mr Melrose, who is spending more than $200,000 on the ads on television all week, said the public had to be warned.

The head of the Optical Superstores chain, who calls both Perth and Melbourne home, said no amount of money was too much to spend.

"If they want to get into bed with a country that has a human rights record like China, kills hundreds of thousands of Tibetans, tens of thousands of Falun Gong and a couple of thousand in Tiananmen Square, if that doesn't set alarm bells ringing that you shouldn't give them control of our strategic resources, then they have no brains" he said.

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