Perth, Australia, 6 June 2007 (AFP) - Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama called for greater respect for the Earth as he kicked off an 11-day Australian tour on Wednesday.
Speaking before a crowd of some 2,000 people in the western city of Perth, the Dalai Lama also called for a greater acknowledgement of the world's poor.
'Taking care of the environment should be part of our daily life,' he told a forum on sustainability and spirituality.
'Using cars, or using electricity, your water, every moment, keep in mind the preservation of energy and resources.'
The Buddhist leader, who fled Tibet in 1959 following a failed uprising against Chinese rule, said the world's resources should not be squandered by humans who wrongly think they can control nature.
'The present generation has the moral responsibility to keep sufficient resources for future generations,' he said. 'It is very important.'
The Dalai Lama said reducing poverty should also be a priority.
'The gap between rich and poor is growing, it's huge,' he said.
'This is not only morally wrong, but practically it's a source of the problem. We have to reduce this gap.'
The visit by the Dalai Lama, who is giving several free public talks and speaking with business leaders throughout the country, has not been without controversy.
Both Prime Minister John Howard and opposition Labor Party leader Kevin Rudd initially said they were too busy to meet with the Nobel Peace Prize laureate.
But the pair, who will face off in an election later this year, later brushed off criticism they were snubbing the Tibetan because they did not want to offend China by saying they were checking their diaries to see whether a meeting could be arranged.
China has ruled Tibet since sending in troops to 'liberate' the region in 1951.
The Dalai Lama, who lives in India where he has set up a government-in-exile, insists he only wants autonomy for Tibet and that the region can remain part of China.
But Chinese authorities regularly accuse him of wanting independence for Tibet, and refuse to acknowledge his authority over the people of the region.
The Dalai Lama will travel to eastern Victoria state on Thursday where he is due to bless a stupa in the country town of Bendigo which, when finished, will be the largest in the western world.