Wednesday, 1 September 2021
Statements by Members
[by video link] We have seen terror and horror in Afghanistan. Australia has committed to taking 3,000 refugees, but this is not enough. We must take at least 20,000 Afghans in addition to our annual humanitarian intake, and those currently here on temporary visas must also be allowed to make Australia their home. The government cannot seriously suggest that these people can be returned to the Taliban.
We have to take more people not just because it is the right thing to do and is something that Australia did after the Tiananmen Square massacre and the war in Vietnam but also because Australia helped to create this terrible situation. The decision to invade Afghanistan 20 years ago was made by Prime Minister Howard exercising his unchecked power to blindly follow George Bush into an imperialist war and keep us there. It's what happens when you have no independent foreign policy. Even today the government slavishly celebrates the ANZUS treaty without any reflection on the cost of this prolonged war.
This very quickly became a war without clear strategic objectives, which allowed murder and terror to flourish. Even though we were constantly told we had to put troops in harm's way to defeat the Taliban, two decades of continued military aggression has destabilised the country and left the Taliban in control. The government should apologise to the people of Afghanistan, and the government should apologise to Australian service personnel for putting and keeping them in harm's way without any clearly defined mission goals. Future parliaments, not the Prime Minister, should decide if we go to war. (Time expired)