Sean Turnell's Optimism and Resilience

"Our relief and joy at your release are also tinged with no small amount of awe — awe and respect at your courage, your optimism and your resilience."

Australian PM Anthony Albanese referring to Professor Sean Turnell visiting the Parliament.

The Prime Minister said: 

It is a great honour to have Professor Sean Turnell here in the chamber today with his magnificent wife, Dr Ha Vu. I most enjoyed our discussion prior to question time, when I welcomed him into my office. I had the pleasure of speaking with Sean when we both touched down in Bangkok just a couple of weeks ago—indeed, less than a couple of weeks ago. As we entered the chamber here, Sean said to me that two weeks ago he was there in the prison, incarcerated by a regime that has trashed human rights in Myanmar and that incarcerated Professor Turnell, who was there in Myanmar giving advice to Aung San Suu Kyi, the democratically elected leader of Myanmar, on how their economy could be improved. What he endured in his 650 days of incarceration is something that no human being should have to endure, yet he has done it with grace and, even in inhumane conditions, with profound humanity.

Our relief and joy at your release are also tinged with no small amount of awe—awe and respect at your courage, your optimism and your resilience. We are so glad, as you've seen from the response across the chamber here, to have you back.

I do want to also pay tribute to Dr Ha Vu. As Professor Turnell said in the 7.30 interview—the magnificent interview, which I would encourage everyone to watch, with Sarah Ferguson the other night—this wasn't in the marriage vows. There must have been times when you felt like you were in a prison of a different nature, but your determination, your fearless advocacy and the love that powered it all proved greater than the hate and everything that you and your beloved husband were up against.

What happened to Professor Turnell should never have happened, but, as he has said to me in our conversations, he was so grateful for the support he received from DFAT and our consular staff. Today I want to pay tribute to those who provided those glimmers of hope with their deliveries and their advocacy. They gave him hope during dark times.

I want to acknowledge the efforts of Foreign Minister Penny Wong and her team in securing his release. In particular, on behalf of Australia, a grateful nation, I thank for the exceptional assistance that we received our ASEAN partners and our other friends, including Japan, in securing Professor Turnell's release. It was a very good day. Professor Turnell struck me with his humility upon his release. It was quite extraordinary. I am so proud that he is now looking, it must be said, a fair bit healthier after what was an awful time.

Most of all, I want to thank Professor Turnell for being here today and for displaying the absolute best of the Australian spirit. I thank all those from across the political spectrum, from across our community who all campaigned so strongly and so consistently to secure the release. You are a most welcome guest, as is Dr Ha Vu.


Read More: Resilience is Underpinned by Optimism

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