The Dalai Lama’s faux pas came during his visit to Parliament House in Canberra, according to the official website of the Tibetan government-in-exile.
Quoting a news report that Gillard was referred to by the Dalai Lama as ‘him’, Thubten Samphel, a spokesperson for the government-in-exile here, said: “It was a mistake which His Holiness corrected himself later.”
The official website (www.tibet.net) says the Dalai Lama visited the Parliament House and he was accorded a warm welcome by some of the top leaders, which include Opposition Leader Tony Abbott.
He also met Nationals leader Warren Truss, Greens leader Bob Brown and School Education Minister Peter Garrett.
Speaking to reporters at the Parliament House, the Dalai Lama said the “goals of my visit are to promote values and religious harmony”.
“If your prime minister has some kind of spiritual interest, then of course my meeting would be useful,” he said, according to the website.
But Australian media reports claimed the Dalai Lama was so confused over Gillard’s refusal to meet him, that during his media interaction with reporters he referred to the prime minister as “he”.
According to a post on www.theaustralian.com: “On a one-day visit to Parliament House, the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader appeared unfussed that Julia Gillard had refused to meet with him…”
Asked (by the reporters) whether he was disappointed 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 him: “Her”.
“Oh, from her,” the 75-year-old said with a laugh.
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, according to theaustralian.com.
“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.”
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.” (IANS)