Australian PM Faces Call to Meet the Dalai Lama

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The Dalai Lama, the public and spiritual leader of Tibet, just touched down in Australia. The self-described "simple Buddhist monk" is here on a twelve-day trip to talk about his teachings. He also touced on some of the tougher issues the Tibetan people face. NTD's Gina Shakespeare has the story.

You don't have to be a Buddhist to benefit from the Buddha's teachings. This is the idea behind the public lecture series that the Dalai Lama is giving in Australia.

About 5000 people gathered in Melbourne to listen to the Dalai Lama lecture on Tibetan Buddhism.

While the audience is in high spirits and his trip here is mainly to impart ancient knowledge, he is still addressing his struggle closer to home.

Tibet, which has been occupied by the Chinese Communist Party since the 1950's has seen the Dalai Lama travel to over 62 countries.

His plight to inform government officials of the human rights abuses suffered by his people under the Party has not let up, despite having recently stepped down as the Political Leader of the Tibetan Government in exile.

Australia's Prime Minister Julia Gillard is still undecided on whether she will follow in the footsteps of the previous two prime ministers who have met the spiritual leader in the past. But the opposition leader Tony Abbott has agreed to a meeting on Tuesday.

The Australian Tibet Council has called on Julia Gillard to meet with the Dalai Lama despite the diplomatic tensions it may cause with the Chinese Communist Party. The Councils Executive Officer, Paul Bourke says "The question shouldn't be - Will Australia's Prime Minister meet the Dalai Lama? The question should be - Why wouldn't she?"

Gina Shakespeare, NTD News, Melbourne, Australia.

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