‘FAIR DINKUM’ SAY THE AUSSIES-‘It takes men of courage to end a war’ Encouraged by what they saw
Posted on January 28th, 2014

The Daily News

“It’s been an absolutely amazing achievement,” Victoria Member of the Parliament Marsha Rose Thomson said noting how important it was to see and hear for themselves the ground situation in Sri Lanka while MP Elizabeth (Liz) Jean Beattie said ‘a lot has changed in a short time.’

The Members of Parliament from Australia’s State of Victoria who met President Mahinda Rajapaksa yesterday morning at Temple Trees had two clear messages – that the transformation Sri Lanka has undergone since the end of the war is “highly impressive” and that there will always be bipartisan support for Sri Lanka in Australia.

MPs Beattie, John Pandazopoulos and Thomson are currently visiting Sri Lanka after having last visited in 2009, shortly after the war ended.

They spoke at length with President Rajapaksa about the changes they have seen in the country. The delegation had the opportunity to travel island wide, including Jaffna, Kandy, Galle and Trincomalee.

“All throughout Sri Lanka, no restrictions were placed on us,” said MP Beattie. “We have been free to speak to anyone we wanted to. We had the freedom to do so.”

Upon returning to Australia, the delegation will prepare a report on what they have seen during their visit to the island and of their impressions. This report will then be tabled at the Australian Parliament and become public record.

“We’re very encouraged by what we see,” MP Beattie said. “Anyone can start a war, but it takes men of courage to end a war.”

President Rajapaksa briefed the parliamentarians on post-war developments in Sri Lanka and what a challenge it was to demine the war-affected areas, resettle the displaced populations and to rebuild nearly all infrastructure after it was all destroyed by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).

MP Pandazopoulos said the reconstruction Sri Lanka has undergone since the end of the war is “highly impressive” compared to other countries that have had similar experiences with war. “You need to be commended,” he told the President. “You have made some hard decisions.”

He said that most of the Sri Lankans living in Australia see and acknowledge the transformations in Sri Lanka after the war.

President Rajapaksa thanked Australia for the continuous support it has extended to Sri Lanka, including during the tsunami in 2004 and the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in 2013.

Sri Lanka and Australia are also discussing the possibility of resuming direct flights between the two countries, further promoting Ceylon tea and also promoting coconut products for export. The delegation pointed out that Australians and others around the world are now beginning to turn to coconut products such as its water and oil as healthy alternatives.

The delegation also spoke of the historical links and common heritage the two countries share. It’s a “direct fit” MP Pandazopoulos said of Sri Lanka for Australian tourists because “it feels very welcoming.”

– See more at: http://www.dailynews.lk/local/fair-dinkum-say-aussies#sthash.a9E8Cobc.dpuf

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