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Christine Milne: What is Abbott's plan for Australia's military involvement in Iraq?

Speeches in Parliament
Christine Milne 3 Sep 2014

The Australian Greens Leader, Senator Christine Milne, uses Question Time in the Senate to ask the Minister representing the Prime Minister about the Government's plan relating to Australian military involvement in Iraq.

Senator MILNE (Tasmania-Leader of the Australian Greens) (14:17): My question without notice is to the Minister representing the Prime Minister, Senator Abetz. Is the Prime Minister aware that the Iraqi government of Nouri al-Maliki is fighting alongside Shia militias accused of ethnic cleansing, beheadings and death squads against the Sunnis in the fight against the Islamic State, which is committing the same gruesome crimes against the Shias? If so, what guarantee can you provide that the weapons Australia is delivering into northern Iraq will not end up in the hands of Shia militias and be turned on the new Iraqi government if it is a unity government including Sunnis?

Senator ABETZ (Tasmania-Leader of the Government in the Senate, Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Public Service and Minister for Employment) (14:18): Regrettably, day after day, we get questions from the Leader of the Australian Greens, basically saying that Australia should not be part and parcel of the deal that has been done by democratic, peace-loving countries, now even endorsed by the Secretary-General of the United Nations. It really beggars belief that the Leader of the Greens would come into this place and ask the sorts of questions that she has-

Senator Milne: I rise on a point of order. I ask the minister to answer the question, not engage in a rhetorical attack.

The PRESIDENT: Senator Milne, the minister has not even completed a quarter of his answer.

Senator ABETZ: I do find it a bit strange that the honourable senator should complain about rhetorical attacks, really. But setting that aside, the reality is that the world is facing a gruesome situation in Iraq. Sometimes when you are faced with those circumstances, very tough decisions need to be made.

Senator Di Natale: You can make it worse.

Senator ABETZ: I accept Senator Di Natale's interjection, and put it on the record, that our involvement could make it worse. That is a possibility. But the Secretary-General of the United Nations does not agree with you. The United States does not agree with you. The United Kingdom does not. France does not. Italy does not, and the European Union does not-and the list goes on.

It begs the question: what would the Australian Greens do? They would say, 'Don't be involved at all. Don't provide the wherewithal for minority ethnic groupings and minority religious groupings to be able to protect themselves from the barbarity of ISIL. As a government, we will do all we can, in lock-step with the international community, to protect these minorities from what would otherwise be an absolute slaughter. (Time expired)


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