Wednesday, 30 March 2022
I stand in full support of this motion and I am encouraged by the words and fully support all of the actions taken by the government, as articulated by Senator Payne. I share Senator Wong's concerns as well. However, I wish to add some words. I have called for the Australian government to expel the Russian ambassador from Australia. News of Russian war crimes in Ukraine, including indiscriminate attacks on civilians, leave no doubt that the Russian regime has chosen to place their country outside the company of civilised nations. The Russian bombing of a children's hospital in Mariupol and, indeed, the theatre, as Senator Bilyk alluded to, are just the latest set of atrocities—and there will be more.
The Russian military also confirmed the use of thermobaric weapons. The use of these devastating fuel-air explosives in urban areas will unquestionably violate the United Nations Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons, which outlaws a wide range of barbaric weaponry. Barbarism is what President Putin's regime is engaged in across Ukraine. Aggressive war is a war crime. So too are the terrorist tactics employed by the Russian forces engaged in this war of aggression. In these circumstances, Foreign Minister Senator Payne's arguments that it is necessary to keep the Russian ambassador in Canberra to maintain a direct line of communication with the Russian government sends precisely the wrong signals to Moscow. It suggests that, no matter what President Putin does, Australia still wants to talk to his henchmen. Yet there is no evidence that the Australian government's direct line of communication has any influence or value whatsoever. Australia should immediately expel the Russian ambassador in Canberra and their consul-general in Sydney.