Thursday, 16 August 2007
Questions without Notice
My question is also to the Minister for Foreign Affairs. In terms of the minister’s stated goal, earlier this week, of establishing peace and prosperity in Iraq, how does he rate his achievements when: hundreds of thousands of people are dead; over four million have been driven from their homes; the brutal sectarian militias have infiltrated the security forces; tens of thousands of Christian families are being persecuted and brutalised on a daily basis by all factions; oil production has been slashed; Iran has been emboldened; and international terrorism has been made worse? Minister, if this represents foreign policy success, what on earth represents failure?
I thank the honourable member—I really sincerely do—for his question, because today is 16 August and that is the honourable member’s first question to me in his capacity as the opposition spokesman on foreign affairs. Well done! I anticipated the question because the honourable member put out a press release yesterday saying exactly what he has just said in the question. My answer to the question is: if that is the definition of success—
Opposition members interjecting—
Oh! Very grown up, aren’t you, over there in the Labor Party. Very grown up! If the Labor Party asks a question like that it deserves a serious answer. The member for Barton says: ‘If that is a definition of success, what is a definition of failure?’
I will tell you what a definition of failure would be. A definition of failure would be to pull all troops out of Iraq and allow all of that country—with violence already throughout much of the country, particularly the Sunni triangle—to be inflamed in a massive and horrific civil war, to see hundreds of thousands of people killed in that conflict—
and to see neighbouring countries drawn into that conflict as a result of the tensions and killing within Iraq itself—to see Iran, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Jordan and other countries drawn into the vortex of conflict in Iraq. Yes, if you want to know what the definition of failure is, that would be a definition of failure. I just make the point that, as far as I know, in key countries around the world there is only one major political party that supports that solution, and that is the Australian Labor Party. No matter how difficult the situation is in Iraq today, there are not too many people who join the Labor Party in thinking that a better policy would be just to wash your hands of the place, turn your backs on the people and allow them to kill each other on a scale that would make the present violence look minor. That would be a definition of failure.