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Source: Daily Telegraph,26 Feb,2011
THE Greens have threatened a trade boycott against the world's second-largest economy in an attack on China by one of its high-profile NSW candidates.
Marrickville Mayor Fiona Byrne, who is running for the state seat, has revealed her council would consider boycotting China out of sympathy for Tibetans.
Labor labelled the policy as "stupid and dangerous" and warned such a ban could threaten Chinese trade with NSW - worth more than $3.2 billion to the state's economy - and damage cultural and student ties with China.
"This is one of the most destructive policies announced by any mayor in Australia's history," Labor's campaign spokesman Luke Foley said.
He has called for Greens Leader Senator Bob Brown to step in and rule out suggestions of a boycott of Australia's largest trading partner.
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Mr Brown, however, could not be contacted by his office yesterday to seek clarification on whether he would back Ms Byrne's proposal or not.
A spokeswoman for Mr Brown said the Greens did not have a "written" policy on Tibet. But Greens Senator Christine Milne, who this week shocked Labor MPs with her claim that the Greens' "power sharing" deal with the Federal Government had delivered the carbon tax, has previously questioned Australia's free trade agreement with China based on its human rights record in Tibet.
Ms Byrne's backing for a China ban follows her boycott of Israel last month over its treatment of Palestinians.
In retaliation, Labor and Liberal councillors have already joined forces on neighbouring Randwick Council to boycott Marrickville Council.
Her latest threats against China were recorded at a candidate forum on Wednesday night in Sydney.
Ms Byrne said her council had expressed solidarity with the local Tibetan community. While the Tibetan community had not asked specifically for a boycott, Ms Byrne said council would adopt one if asked.
"If the local Tibetan community came to us and asked us to look at boycotting China, I'm sure council would do that," Ms Byrne said.
"So we actually have done things [for] our local community ... provide action, and support our local community around those issues and I'm quite proud of that, quite proud to do that."
Mr Foley said: "It's hard to believe that anyone could come up with such a stupid and dangerous policy.
"If she had her way, it would cost hundreds of thousands of Australian jobs. Bob Brown needs to step in, disown the policy and disown the candidate."
The seat of Marrickville is held by Deputy Premier Carmel Tebbutt by a 3 per cent margin. The Greens have consistently raised the issue of human rights in Tibet and have called for China to recognise Tibet's autonomy.
Almost 35 per cent of people living in Marrickville were born overseas, many of them Chinese.
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