Senate debates

Wednesday, 30 March 2022



5:14 pm

Photo of Janet RiceJanet Rice (Victoria, Australian Greens) Share this | Hansard source

I rise to put on the record the Greens' support for this motion for the people of Ukraine. Our hearts go out to the people of Ukraine, who are suffering so much from this brutal war that is being waged upon them by Russia, and we condemn Russia's military aggression against Ukraine as we condemn all violent aggression of this type. Russia's war in Ukraine is absolutely catastrophic for global peace. When talking about the war, the images and the stories that we have heard just reinforce how the cost of war is borne by ordinary people—the sheer figures that a quarter of the Ukrainian population, 10 million people, have had to flee their homes. We've got three million people who have fled Ukraine, and many people are either dead or wounded. The whole country is being traumatised by this appalling war, this appalling invasion. We affirm our support for the right of the people of Ukraine to sovereignty and territorial integrity, and we support the measures that are outlined in this Senate motion. We call upon the global community to work together, even more than they have been, to support additional non-violent measures to apply extra pressure on Russia to get them to withdraw.

There are two things in particular that we would like to see the Australian government work multilaterally to get more global support for. One is debt forgiveness. The world could move to forgive Ukraine's debt, which is worth about $129 billion. That would free up their resources to be able to withstand the Russian invasion. The second is that we're calling on the world to reduce its reliance on Russian fossil fuels, absolutely as quickly and as urgently as possible. The sale of gas and oil from Russia is worth about $120 billion a year to them. That $120 billion a year is what is funding and fuelling the Russian war machine. We know the issues of the energy needs in Europe, particularly in Germany but also in other European countries, and the fact that they feel at the moment that they have no choice and that they have to keep on importing Russian gas and oil. But I say the world needs to work with Europe, including Germany, to work out how we can very quickly remove their reliance on Russian gas and oil and support them in shifting to other energy, particularly renewable energies, which we in Australia are well placed to help to supply.

We have a situation where there is potentially further military aggression against Russia. We know the risks of doing that. We know that at this stage it's very easy to say, 'What else can we do?' We have this violence of Russia against Ukraine, but we know that if there is further military aggression—if, for example, a no-fly zone were instituted—there is the potential of it escalating into World War III. To safeguard our future, we need to work on what other measures we can put in place that haven't got that incredibly high risk, including the incredibly high risk of escalation into nuclear war.

Although it seems really difficult to work out how Germany could wean itself quickly off Russian gas and oil, I say that Australia and the world need to work with Europe, including Germany, to work out just how we can make that happen so that we can safeguard our future. The world at this moment has to unite for peace. We have to work together. There are more mechanisms that we can use through the United Nations to respond collectively and decisively to de-escalate the situation and work for peace. My colleague Senator Steele-John is going to be talking more about these measures.


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