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Monday, 21 November 2011
Page: 9031

Senator BOB BROWN (TasmaniaLeader of the Australian Greens) (16:51): Madam Acting Deputy President, I seek leave to make a short statement.

The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT ( Senator Crossin ): Leave is granted for two minutes.

Senator BOB BROWN: I note the Prime Minister's statement and that of the Leader of the Opposition in the House of Representatives today. What both leaders did was ignore the headline news that the brigadier general of the Afghan National Army in charge of the forces in Oruzgan province has said, effectively, to the Australian government about the Australian forces, 'Give us your equipment and go home.' The remarkable statement by the Afghan brigadier-general includes a direct asseveration that the Australian forces should not stay three years longer in Oruzgan province. There has been a deafening silence from the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition, but to any reasonable person that statement is effectively a shockwave to our courageous defence force personnel working in collaboration with this brigadier-general and his forces in Afghanistan. Of itself, it demands a parliamentary debate here in Australia.

The Australian Greens stand for bringing our troops home. We salute their loyalty; we salute their dedication. But they are in harm's way with a corrupt government and now the senior people most related to them in the defence forces in Afghanistan are saying, effectively, 'Go home'. This should be the matter of a full debate in this parliament. We owe that to our loyal defence force personnel.