Wednesday, 24 November 2021
I rise to inform the chamber about a constituent of mine, Bibi. She's a young woman in her mid-20s. She's articulate, she can navigate bureaucracy and she is close to her family, but right now she is stuck in Pakistan. She flew to Afghanistan to marry her fiance in July. Of course, we know what happened next. In mid-August Kabul fell to the Taliban. This put so many people in danger, particularly those who had helped international [inaudible] Australia and those who had worked in Afghanistan's courts, universities, media and many other workplaces. Bibi tried to get out. She went to the airport with her Australian passport and she followed all the instructions, but as we know it was mayhem. In Bibi's words the situation was 'horrific and chaotic'. She repeatedly emailed DFAT to get advice on getting out of Afghanistan and bringing her immediate family members who, she has advised me, were in considerable danger. But she wasn't able to get a timely response from the government department. Her family members worked in the previous Afghani government as a supreme court judge and police prosecutor. She fled across the border with her family and only a pair of shoes and some clothing. She told me it was a very difficult journey. She said that, as an Australian citizen, people were not willing to offer her shelter as they were afraid the Taliban would find out. Her immediate family members and fiance kept her safe. She doesn't want to leave them to their fate in Pakistan, which would potentially mean they would be deported back to Afghanistan to the possibility of significant punishment and violence. Bibi and her brothers in Australia have sponsored her Afghani family members and fiance for refugee and humanitarian visas. Now they wait, and they will have to continue to wait.
Meanwhile, Labor is seeking urgent clarity on the number of Afghan nationals that will be resettled in Australia, given the ongoing and growing uncertainty regarding the government's commitment. The government's offer of 3,000 visas is not enough. We have a moral obligation to the people of Afghanistan, given our recent shared history. If we are elected, Labor will abolish temporary protection visas and safe haven enterprise visas. We will give people with those visas permanent protection to stay in Australia and establish their lives with stability. We will double our intake of refugees. Crucially, we will not subject refugees to indefinite detention. Numbers are important: 3,000 is not enough because behind every number there is a story. In all of the emails that I and my staff have received, we hear a young woman typing out emails while scared and in hiding.