Events in Afghanistan ‘devastating and dangerous’

Events in Afghanistan ‘devastating and dangerous’

and i call the honourable the leader of the opposition thank you mr speaker this is not how australia wanted it to end the events in afghanistan have been devastating for the afghan people dangerous for australian nationals who remain in afghanistan traumatic for veterans of the conflict and terrifying for australians with relatives back in afghanistan it is also potentially lethal for the many afghans who have worked with australian troops and officials over many years and have not yet been given safe passage out and it will have profound implications for the standing of democracy in the world for global geopolitics and for our own national security which will reverberate for the decade to come but as greg sheridan wrote in the weekend australian no one has been hurt as much as the 39 million people in afghanistan especially women and girls who will be forced to live under an islamist theocracy with a history of extravagant and often depraved violence these have been testing times times when genuine leadership matters most while a full and dispassionate reflection on australia’s experience in afghanistan will need to come our focus now must be on the current crisis labor strongly supports the work of the australian interagency team on the ground in kabul they must be given every form of support they need they have been presented with an almost impossible task one made all the harder because this effort was launched far too late providing support to those who supported australians on the ground is more than just a moral obligation it is a national security imperative i do not understand why a team of the kind that we only recently deployed was not in place in kabul the day the government announced australia’s intention to leave nearly three months ago as we evacuated our own personnel why didn’t we evacuate australian nationals at the same time as well as loyal afghans who had worked for australia and whose lives would be in jeopardy as a result the confusion over the fate of the 200 embassy security guards who were told on saturday to contact a migration agent is almost unbelievable in its sheer callousness it contrasts darkly with the leadership being exemplified by veterans who served in afghanistan who have rallied behind their afghan mates it also contrasts with the appeals of community organizations mps from both sides and former prime ministers howard and rudd the very real risks that some will not be able to be reached is something that could and should have been avoided this is particularly difficult for the families of the fallen and those who served alongside them today i pay tribute to those 41 australians who made the ultimate sacrifice today once again we honor you those who are still wondering about the arbitrary lottery that determines which is the wrong place and the wrong time the twist of fate that has left them here among the living while their mates now belong to memory as the flame burning eternally across the lake reminds us we cannot and will never forget them let me say this the debt we owe to our men and women in uniform who have served in afghanistan is beyond measure we are safer because of you we honor those who went those who never came home those who never came home the same and those who are there now trying to salvage some good out of the chaos of kabul airport however there is no evading the fact that this is an occasion where gratitude and pride must stand alongside sorrow as i said this is not how australia hoped it would end it was never going to be easy afghanistan has long been a level of great powers ambitions have crumbled there giants humbled but we saw early success in the mission to prevent afghanistan being used as a base by al-qaeda to launch acts of terrorism but as the mission turned to the long-term task of building an environment where terrorism could not find new opportunities it was always going to be difficult government attention was quickly drawn to other events as the grim tide of the taliban floods back in we must try to draw some solace from the thought that the vast majority of afghan lives touched by australians were touched very much for the better as they carried on with this mission even during those times when they were dogged by misgivings the men and women who served in afghanistan in our name reminded us what courage courage and honour truly are the adf our diplomats and aid workers made a positive difference in the lives of the afghan people they made a difference for all those women and girls released from the darkness in which the taliban had kept them we can be proud that australians created the beginnings of what should have been a brighter future and we hope we have helped in planting the seeds of much what might still become that better time in the future our veterans are not bronze sculptures on a cenotaph they are flesh and blood human beings left to shoulder superhuman burdens let us work to lighten their burdens i say to our veterans no one who has served as you have can pretend to feel what you have feel to know what it is like to live back in this world in this familial life but to have part of yourself that still dwells in that one you have the gratitude of the nation and as a nation we cannot turn our backs on the truth of what has happened here no matter how hard we’ll work our way through the findings of the burden report commissioned by this government and all the lessons to be learned if freedom democracy and the defeat of terrorism have been our cause then it is vitally important it is a vitally important way to honour those who have fallen in the prosecution of that cause by attending to these values both at home and in the wider world and one of those brave afghans who repaid our soldiers courage with their own putting their lives on the line to help us help their compatriots they believed in the promise we held of a better future so many afghans have risked it all they have struggled and sacrificed to create a better country for themselves now we are witnessing scenes where for some clinging to the outside of a departing aircraft somehow represents greater hope than staying to face the new reality there are many australians today who are desperate and anxious about their family in afghanistan who have been waiting months in some cases years to get their partner visas or family reunification visas issued and have their families join them mps have been besieged with hundreds of desperate requests and stories that just break your heart we need to look beyond the current evacuation to ensure that australia plays a role in the global and regional humanitarian and refugee response as well as the ongoing political challenge that has become necessary following the taliban’s return the taliban have said that they have changed and will be more respectful of human rights but the violence and chaos around kabul airport does not all go well we must continue to speak up for our values to the taliban leadership and as the alternative prime minister of this country i would say this the afghanistan you now claim to rule is radically different to the one you had enslaved 20 years ago if you say there will be no retributions you will be held to that by the international community if you say that work women and girls will not be treated as second-class citizens you will be held to that too if you say you are somehow different to the taliban who provided safe haven to osama bin laden to conduct the september 11 2001 attacks that killed australians then the international community will hold you to that as well i also say this to the taliban if you are claiming to be different then one simple practical proof is to create a safe and orderly humanitarian corridor to kabul airport right now for anybody who wants to leave instead of threatening children with guns we in australia should demand should demand nothing less together with the international community we must pay close attention to ensuring that afghanistan does not again become a safe haven for terrorism as other countries have done let us step up and do the right thing by those who assisted us our international reputation is at stake our national security demands nothing less and so is the way that we see ourselves as a people as a nation as the bearers of values that we believe are worth looking up to let us be worthy of the hope that we gave
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Events in Afghanistan \'devastating and dangerous\'

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