MEDIA RELEASE: 30 October 2013 Sack Peter Phelps: An embarrassment for NSW government

Gail —  October 31, 2013 — Leave a comment

Aggrieved Chileans and Australian community members have attended several rallies outside NSW Parliament calling for Peter Phelps to be discipline and demanding a public apology to aggrieved Latin Americans. The rallies follow on Upper House Whip Peter Phelps’ praise of Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet on September 11.

Rodrigo Acuna, PHD candidate from the Faculty of Arts, Department of International Studies, Macquarie University, who addressed the rally on 23.10.13, said: “The comments by Dr Peter Phelps in parliament are repulsive and deeply regrettable considering the harsh past experiences that the Chilean community endured under the dictatorship”

“NSW Premier Barry O’Farrell must discipline Dr Phelps as the communities has been deeply offended by his insensitive remarks. Phelps must be dismissed him from his office of Coalition Whip”.

On September 11, the 40th anniversary of the coup, Dr Phelps told that NSW Upper House that General Pinochet was a “reluctant hero, a morally courageous man”, that we as society “have to accept that sometimes it is necessary to do bad things to prevent terrible things from happening.

Elizabeth Rivera, one of the organisers, said: “Dr Phelps has lied about Allende and he has justified the violent rally 23.10.13destruction of a democratically elected government. I wonder whether this is legal; can an Australian parliamentarian support violent intervention in foreign countries?” MPs Lynda Voltz, Faruqi Mehreen, John Kaye and Paul Lynch also attended the rally on 23.10.13. Mothers of Chileans who were assassinated during the Pinochet dictatorship and women and men who survived torture were also present.

Paula Sanchez, organiser, said: “We’ll continue rallying here to denounce Mr Phelps’ actions. Australian academics have denounced Phelps as his comments support state terrorism and set a dangerous precedent in Australian democracy. Premier O’Farrell has said that Mr Phelps’ comments don’t represent the view of his government; the Premier must be so embarrassed that he is avoiding meeting with us”

Patricia Saavedra, wife of a Chilean man who is still disappeared, will be attending the rally on Thursday 31.10.13 at 10 am. She will be accompanied by representatives from Latin American and Australian community organisations. They will be handing out a letter to the Australian community denouncing Phelps’ actions. Patricia Saavedra says: “This is an issue that affects the entire community; it is not a problem of the right or left, of Liberals or Labor. No-one can excuse state terrorism and the violation of human rights, even less so a parliamentary representative”.

Contact: Elizabeth Rivera 0402608265, Paula Sanchez 0402709028, Mr Rodrigo Acuña 0450237099.


The “40 years is nothing: History and memory of the 1973 coups d’état in Uruguay and Chile” Seminar, held at the University of New South Wales on Friday 4th October 2013 resolved that:

rally3Considering that: a. On the 11 of September 2013 Dr Peter Phelps, member of the NSW Parliament, made a statement in the State Upper House to the effect that the bloody dictator General Pinochet was a “reluctant hero, a morally courageous man”, that we as society “have to accept that sometimes it is necessary to do bad things to prevent terrible things from happening”, thus unequivocally supporting the use of brutal repression of Chilean people by the Pinochet regime in Chile, b. State terrorism in Chile included systematic arbitrary detentions, torture, rape and murder against the civilian population to govern them using fear and brutal force, c. This and subsequent statements of Dr Phelps defending Pinochet have caused substantial hurt to the Chilean community in New South Wales, including those who suffered at the hands of the Pinochet regime, d. The statements of Dr Phelps have also caused substantial hurt to other Latin-American communities which have suffered under military regimes and dictatorships, such as that by General Pinochet, e. Dr Phelps’ statements have further caused offence to all citizens of New South Wales who are committed to human rights and the rule of law, f. Mr Phelps in his response to many letters, e-mails, articles and twits demanding an apology has continued to justify state terrorism and the use of violence against those who do not share his views, g. Dr Phelps has provided a distorted account of Chilean history to justify the brutal removal of democratically elected President Salvador Allende by calling Allende a communist and asserting the Chilean Congress had a majority to remove Dr Salvador Allende from his position as President when the Chilean constitution did not permit Congress to do so, h. This distortion of history and glorification of terror sets a dangerous precedent in Australian democracy and desensitise our civic society to the tragedy of state terrorism,

The organisers of this seminar, academics from various universities in Australia and overseas, MP from Victoria and other persons attending this conference:

1. Condemn any and all violations of human rights by both contemporary and past repressive regimes in Chile, Latin-American and anywhere else in the world,

2. Condemn Dr Phelps’ justification for state terrorism or the overthrow of democratically elected governments

3. Condemn Dr Phelps’ attempt to legitimise the use of arbitrary detention without independent judicial review, systematic torture and rape, and summary executions without trial, regardless of the context in which same may take place, and

4. Call on the Premier of NSW, Mr O’Farrell, to forthwith:

(i) Discipline Dr Phelps for his remarks,

(ii) Require him to unreservedly apologise to the Chilean and Australian community and unreservedly withdraw his comments, and

(iii) Remove Dr Phelps from the position of Whip of the Liberal Party in State Parliament as Dr Phelps is not a fit and proper person to hold that role.

rally2 23.10.13 - Copy


  • The Honourable Telmo Languiller MP, Member for Derrimut, Melbourne, Victoria,
  • Dr. James R Levy, Senior Lecturer, School of Humanities and Languages, UNSW; Honorary President of the Chile   Solidarity Committee during the Pinochet dictatorship years,
  • Dr Peter Ross, Senior Lecturer, School of Humanities and Languages, UNSW,
  • Dr. Pablo Leighton, Macquarie University/Universidad de Santiago, Chile,
  • Mario Cortés Santander, Universidad Libre de Bogota, Colombia,
  • Andrés Arévalo Robles, Universidad del Pais Vasco, Spain,
  • Ladis Sosa, Uruguay,  Fernando Lopez, PhD Candidate, School of Humanities and Language, UNSW,
  • Ana Maria Tomaino, PhD Candidate, Macquarie University,
  • Cynthia Fernández Roich, PhD candidate, UNSW,
  • Dr. Rodrigo Acuña, Macquarie University,
  • Oscar Cárdenas Navarro, University of Queensland,  Florencia Melgar, journalist and researcher, Sydney,
  • Paula Sanchez, Latin America Social Forum, Sydney,
  • Rebecca Paredes Nieto, PhD candidate, UNSW,
  • Gustavo Martin Montenegro, Author, Canberra,
  • Cristián Leyton, Researcher, Australia,
  • Maia Gunn, PhD candidate, UNSW.


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