CLIMATE change is a global problem that all humanity has to tackle because “human beings can’t live on the moon”, the Dalai Lama says.
On a one-day visit to Parliament House today, the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader appeared unfussed that Julia Gillard had refused to meet with him, at one stage referring to the Prime Minister as a “he” before correcting himself.
The Dalai Lama had a packed schedule in Canberra, including meetings with Opposition Leader Tony Abbott and his deputy Warren Truss, a lunch with 84 MPs, a meeting with the all-party parliamentary group for Tibet and an interfaith prayer service.
Asked whether he was disappointed Ms Gillard had declined a meeting, the Tibetan spiritual leader was blunt: “No.
“My main interest as I mentioned earlier is promotion of human value, promotion of harmony. So I always believe people make significant contributions, not politicians, even prime ministers,” the Buddhist leader said.
“If your Prime Minister has some kind of spiritual interest then of course my meeting may be useful – otherwise I have nothing to ask him. And, there is no point to seek advice from him.”
One of the Dalai Lama’s aides quietly corrected His Holiness: “Her”.
“Oh, from her,” the 75-year-old said with a laugh.
Ms Gillard later played down her decision not to meet the Dalai Lama, saying he was a frequent visitor to Australia.
“I think he has been here four times in the last five years. On some occasions he has met with the Prime Minister on others he hasn’t,” she told journalists.
“I’ve determined on this occasion I won’t be meeting with the Dalai Lama, he will meet with a member of the government, minister (Peter) Garrett.”
Ms Gillard denied her decision had been influenced by pressure from China.
“No I make my own decisions and the government makes its own decisions about meetings that we hold.”
Not the first time a rock star has met the Dalai Lama, admittedly.
[*That chorus continues: "The time has come, the fact's a fact, it belongs to them, let's give it back"]
UPDATE 16/6/11: It’s jokes like this one that suggest the Dalai Lama’s grasp of English is probably about as good as this broadcaster’s grasp of Buddhism…