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Monday, 21 November 2011
Page: 9078

Senator FAULKNER (New South Wales) (19:59): I am certainly pleased to have the opportunity—albeit brief—to contribute to this debate on Australia's involvement in Afghanistan. I still believe, as I have said before in the Senate, that in the post 9-11 world Australia cannot afford to ignore its national security interests in corners of the globe beyond our territorial borders and outside of our region. I still believe Australia as a member of the international community must not shirk its responsibilities in Afghanistan.

Let us not forget that we operate in Afghanistan under a United Nations mandate that is renewed annually. Let us not forget that we operate in Afghanistan as a member of the International Security Assistance Force, along with partners from 48 nations. Let us not forget that we are not an invasion force in Afghanistan, but that we are there at the invitation of the government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan. Let us not forget that we are there for the most important and legitimate of reasons—to ensure that Afghanistan is no longer a place where terrorists are trained and find safe haven. We must not forget that we have a clear operational military objective—to train the 4th Brigade of the Afghan National Army so it can take full responsibility for security and stability in Oruzgan province. The less secure Afghanistan is, the less secure Australia and Australians are.

There is a human cost to our involveĀ­ment—and it is a very heavy human cost. As we all know, the risks to our personnel are serious—32 Australians have died, 11 this year, and 213 Australians have been wounded in action, 48 this year. This is a terrible, terrible toll. So many families have suffered pain and loss. So many have had their lives changed forever as a result of those Australian casualties. But I for one do not want the effort and sacrifice of our troops in Afghanistan to be in vain. I want to see Australia finish the job in Afghanistan and go.