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McEwen, Senator Anne
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- Start of Business
- EDUCATION SERVICES FOR OVERSEAS STUDENTS LEGISLATION AMENDMENT BILL 2010
- HEALTH INSURANCE (EXTENDED MEDICARE SAFETY NET) AMENDMENT DETERMINATION 2010 (NO. 2)
- HEALTH INSURANCE (EXTENDED MEDICARE SAFETY NET - MIDWIVES) AMENDMENT DETERMINATION 2010
- MATTERS OF PUBLIC INTEREST
- MINISTERIAL STATEMENTS
QUESTIONS WITHOUT NOTICE
(Colbeck, Sen Richard, Conroy, Sen Stephen)
(Bilyk, Sen Catryna, Conroy, Sen Stephen)
(Mason, Sen Brett, Evans, Sen Chris)
(Ludlam, Sen Scott, Wong, Sen Penny)
(Back, Sen Chris, Carr, Sen Kim)
(Bishop, Sen Mark, Wong, Sen Penny)
(Scullion, Sen Nigel, Arbib, Sen Mark)
(Xenophon, Sen Nick, Sherry, Sen Nick)
(Fierravanti-Wells, Sen Concetta, Ludwig, Sen Joe)
- Murray-Darling Basin
- QUESTIONS WITHOUT NOTICE: ADDITIONAL ANSWERS
- QUESTIONS WITHOUT NOTICE: TAKE NOTE OF ANSWERS
- FOOD LABELLING
- MATTERS OF PUBLIC IMPORTANCE
- MINISTERIAL STATEMENTS
CORPORATIONS AMENDMENT (NO. 1) BILL 2010
DEFENCE LEGISLATION AMENDMENT (SECURITY OF DEFENCE PREMISES) BILL 2010
FISHERIES LEGISLATION AMENDMENT BILL (NO. 2) 2010
NATIONAL HEALTH AND HOSPITALS NETWORK BILL 2010
- MINISTERIAL STATEMENTS
- QUESTIONS ON NOTICE
Wednesday, 27 October 2010
Senator McEWEN (12:40 PM) —I welcome the opportunity to contribute to this debate today about our nation’s involvement in Afghanistan, and I think it is timely that the debate is being held in this week when we have members of the Australian Defence Force Parliamentary Program here to hear it. I would like to start by acknowledging the support and admiration for our Defence Force personnel which is often and genuinely expressed by members and senators from all parties in this parliament. It is a sentiment that is overwhelmingly expressed by the people of Australia as well whenever they have the opportunity to say it. One only has to look at the increased attendances at Anzac Day ceremonies around Australia and overseas to know that support for our troops is unquestioned.
Today’s debate is not about support for our troops, but whether or not we should support the government’s presence in Afghanistan. It is important that all Australians know why the government has deployed our troops to Afghanistan, and it is important that Australians are kept informed on a regular basis about what we are doing there. We should be clear about what we hope to achieve and honest about what progress is being made to meet our objectives. Committing Australian troops to places like Afghanistan means not only that we place our troops in the face of danger but also that Australia will be seen by the rest of the world to have taken a position either in support of or against other countries or groups within countries. It exposes us to international scrutiny and may expose us to reactions from nations or groups hostile to our engagement. Governments grapple with those potentialities. They always have and always will, and deployment of troops to any conflict will always be contentious, not just because defence personnel will be killed or injured, but because Australians might become more vulnerable to retaliation and civilian populations will also be at an increased risk of violence and death in any conflict in which we participate. We need to be honest about those facts.
Like many Australians, I know a number of our young and not-so-young people who are or who have been in the ADF and have been deployed to Afghanistan and to the places our troops have been sent to. I know plenty of men who fought in World War II—there are not so many of them left now—in Korea and in Vietnam. Like all senators, I have tried to assist constituent veterans who are permanently damaged by their experiences of war and conflict. I read with horror the effect of war on civilians and particularly on women and children. The price of engagement is very high.
So, should we be there? My view is that we should. I agree with the Prime Minister and with the majority of people who have spoken in this chamber during this debate that Australia has made a commitment and we must see that commitment through. Australia is deployed in Afghanistan as part of an international effort. We joined with international forces under a United Nations mandate to deploy to Afghanistan to remove the Taliban from power and to counter the terrorist organisations that were cultivated there. Along with 46 other nations, Australia formed together to create the International Security Assistance Force, or ISAF. Of course, that came after the dreadful events of 11 September 2001, when the terrorist organisation al-Qaeda, based in Afghanistan, was responsible for the deaths of more than 3,000 people, including 10 Australians and including my friend Andrew Knox.
Successive terrorist acts around the world inspired the international community to stand up and attempt to defeat the Taliban so that no further incidences like September 11 would be repeated.