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Monday, 13 February 2012
Page: 839


Mr DANBY (Melbourne Ports) (13:52): More than 6,000 people—civilians—in Syria have met their deaths at the hands of a brutal government led by Bashar al-Assad. It is very regrettable that China and Russia combined at the Security Council of the United Nations to stop measures requested by the Arab League to advance a peaceful course of reconciliation and negotiation inside Syria. I am sure those on both sides of this House strongly support the proposed meeting of a UN contact group of countries, who are not going to leave the people of Syria to be murdered by their dictator. Australia will participate actively in this group and will ensure that steps are taken to protect civilians in Syria from the brutal government which is trying to suppress them.

I have no illusions that the Syrian opposition are perfect or that they have not been heavily penetrated by al-Qaeda or Islamist groups, but there is no excuse for the senseless slaughter which is taking place in Syria. I am sure Australia, unlike Russia and China at the Security Council, will take up the role of providing a conscience in the contact group and see that civilians are protected in that awful conflict. (Time expired)