Conservative Party leader Cory Bernardi is being joined by a group of crossbench senators in urging the government to boycott a high-profile Saudi investment conference over the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.
Their Senate motion calls on Australia to pull out of Saudi Arabia's "Davos in the Desert" event next week.
Senator Bernardi wants the Coalition and Labor to unite to support freedom of the press by passing the motion because extra-judicial murder by governments of journalists is something that every Australian senator should strongly speak out against.
The Conservative Party leader is no stranger to criticising the Saudis, lashing out last June after their national football team dishonoured the memory of Australian victims of terrorism in London. The Saudis kept warming up during a minute's silence at a June 2017 Socceroos World Cup qualifier played in the Senator's home city of Adelaide. Senator Bernardi said at that time "If this sort of behaviour is endorsed by the Saudi Government, then we should have to consider this as a significant diplomatic incident. I’m tired of having to accept this sort of disrespect both on our home soil and yet at the same time being told we have to respect the cultural differences emanating from the Middle East. The Australian people have had a gutful."
Khashoggi, a US resident and columnist critical of Riyadh's policies, disappeared on October 2 after entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.
Turkey believes he was murdered and his body removed, and although Saudi Arabia initially denied that, two sources say the Saudis are now preparing to admit that Khashoggi died during an interrogation that went wrong.
The global condemnation of the Saudis is a welcome development after Senator Bernardi called out the alternate reality being played out at the United Nations, where the demands of the Saudis are constantly accommodated.
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