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14june2011KDharamshala: Tibetan spiritual leader, His Holiness the Dalai Lama's current visit to Australia has proven a topic of internal debate in the Australian media reports, not least after Prime Minister Julia Gillard finally declined to meet the Tibetan spiritual leader on June 13, after much speculation about her stance on the issue.

In a statement from Gillard's office it read that, "Australian prime ministers have not met the Dalai Lama on every occasion he has visited Australia" and that "Given the frequency of his travel to Australia, the government believes the current arrangements are appropriate".

Instead, according to news media The Age, the Prime Minister's Office is believed to have proposed His Holliness the Dalai Lama meet privately with the federal Minister for Human Services, Tanya Plibersek, who is not in cabinet.

According to news agency AP, the opposition has earlier accused the Australian PM of "being a puppet of Greens leader Sen. Bob Brown", since the Greens Party is a crucial supporter of Gillard's government.

Commenting on this, Australian National University political scientist Brett Bowden has said that Gillard has been "trying get arms lengths from the Greens" by going against Greens leader Sen. Brown's wishes.

Brown issued a statement earlier Monday saying he was "working hard to urge Prime Minister Gillard to meet His Holiness." "There will be a great feeling of pleasure around Australia if she takes 10 minutes off to do just that," Brown said.

Meanwhile, His Holiness the Dalai Lama met with opposition leader Tony Abbott, leader of the Nationals party Warren Truss as well as with Greens leader Senator Brown at the Parliament House in Canberra where more than 80 federal MPs and senators from all parties were expected at today's parliamentary reception for His Holiness the Dalai Lama.

But while the Australia Tibet Council expressed disappointment with Ms Gillard's decision, pointing out no Labor prime minister had met the Dalai Lama since Paul Keating in 1992, the Tibetan Nobel Peace Prize laureate seemed unfazed when asked at a press conference if he was disappointed that he hadn't been able to get a commitment to a meeting with Gillard:

"If I had some agenda to discuss with the prime minister, I would be disappointed" said His Holiness. He also said that "if your prime minister has some kind of spiritual interest then of course my meeting would be useful" and added that the goals of his visit were to promote values and religious harmony.

Former Premier for the Australian state of New South Wales, Mr. Bob Carr, however, believes otherwise as he wrote on his blog that the Dalai Lama's strategy "is to keep coming here and forcing his presence on Canberra, presumably to generate ill-feeling between us and the Chinese"

Carr also wrote that "behind the self-effacing shuffle and the grins he has a mischievous agenda in pursuit of theocratic power." This statement came at a time when His Holiness had just declared he would step down as Tibet's political leader, breaking a 4 centuries old tradition of theocracy in Tibet.

Gillard's move not to meet His Holiness is believed to not only send a signal of independence from the government's support party the Greens, but also to please China who is Australia's most important trading partner, buying huge quantities of Australian raw materials including iron ore, coal and natural gas.

In a press statement His Holiness the Dalai Lama said that Australia must consider the consequences of its actions, referring to the country's mining activities.

When asked if he meant that Australian mining companies should boy-cott Chinese customers on behalf of the country's human rights record, His Holiness replied that China should not be isolated or contained.

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E-mail: editor@thetibetpost.com