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Monday, 22 September 2014
Page: 10132


Mrs GRIGGS (Solomon) (17:19): In his autobiography, former CIA boss George Tenet provides an insight into life in the Middle East from one of the strongmen who subjected tens of thousands of his citizens to cruelty and brutality on what can rightly be described as an industrial scale. The former Iraqi President, Saddam Hussein, under interrogation after his capture by US troops, reluctantly admitted his country did not have a stockpile of chemical and biological weapons or weapons of mass destruction—a key factor behind the coalition of the willing's invasion of his country in March 2003. 'It is a tough neighbourhood', Tenet quotes Saddam as saying. Saddam was more concerned about how Iran, the country against which he waged a bloody, decade-long war during the 1980s, would respond if it learnt Iraq in fact did not have weapons of mass destruction.

Over the past few months, life in Iraq for up to seven million people has gotten a lot tougher of course. The capture by ISIL of towns and cities in Syria and Iraq, and the appalling human toll this has wreaked, is a tragedy of global proportions. Revelling under its black flag, and even blacker heart, ISIL is creating an abattoir where the demented fantasies of thousands of seriously evil individuals are playing out in the name of religion. No religion, no god, would ever condone the sort of violence that is currently underway in the territory currently under ISIL's control.

For civilised people not to respond to the barbaric actions that have been reported over recent months would be a grave and unforgiveable failure of responsibility. It is for this reason that I very much support the Prime Minister's clear-minded resolve and determination to support the United States and approximately 50 other nations who have committed to degrade and destroy ISIL. The Greens say they fear our involvement and that it would lead to a quagmire, but avoidance and appeasement surely is not the answer.

Former United States President Bill Clinton cited as a significant foreign policy failure his hesitation at involving America in the atrocities being played out between feuding tribes in Rwanda in the 1990s. The President had earlier been burnt by the death of United States military personnel in Somalia and was extremely reluctant to become involved in another ill-fated conflict in Africa. The President blinked and millions died.

Appeasement against psychopaths has a long history of failure. For the civilised world to adopt a similar position with ISIL would be dangerous. These people will not stop in Iraq and Syria. Given half a chance they would spread their poison throughout the entire Islamic world. But to charge in with all guns blazing would also be a mistake. The global coalition that has rallied behind the United States is developing a considered approach to dealing with this regime of terror that shows complete and utter disregard for human life.

I will briefly focus on two aspects of ISIL's horror regime, but there are many more that could be picked out. I was sickened to read recently about the fate of potentially thousands of women, Muslim and Christian, who are being held by Islamic State fighters and are being sold off as brides against their will. These women and the children at the centre of the storm are innocents who should be front and centre in the minds of those who criticise the large body of opinion in support of trying to put an end to this horror.

The very public executions of two foreign journalists and an aid worker over recent weeks have been designed to drive a wedge between Western governments and their people—a horrible bargaining chip that is as vile as it is shocking. But an unintended consequence is that it could also stem the flow of information out of the territories currently occupied by ISIL, which would allow these people to carry out their abhorrent cruelty out of sight of the rest of the world. My thoughts are with those journalists and others who have provided a flow of information out of Iraq and Syria and who are now in the clutches of the ISIL barbarians.

Even in the few short weeks since the Prime Minister delivered his opening address in the Iraq motion, the grounds have shifted substantially. While I wholeheartedly support the position that the government has taken in response to the Islamic State, the caliphate, and the innocent millions at the centre of this madness, I also support moves this government is making to ensure and secure innocent Australians here at home.

Last week's revelations of an ISIL-inspired terror plot to decapitate an innocent Australian makes me feel sick to the core. That there are people in our community who are prepared to exhibit such disregard for human life has nothing to do with religion. These people are nothing more than criminals and they should be and will be treated as criminals. I say to these people, 'When you are identified by our security agencies and when you are captured by our police forces, you will pay the price that your mindset and actions so richly deserve.'

In Darwin and Palmerston our diverse ethnic community is at the heart of a tight-knit social fabric that binds us together. One of the greatest pleasures of my job is the citizenship ceremonies I conduct each month which give me the privilege of being able to meet with and talk to the people from a range of backgrounds who choose to make the Territory home—those who come here to join us, not to change us. The pleasure these people have in becoming citizens is for me very touching and extremely rewarding. These people are welcomed and embraced by our country.

The malcontents and ingrates pictured on the front pages of Australian newspapers last week are trash who lack the courage and capacity to become valuable citizens of this great country. They are scum and should be treated as such.

While it is extremely sad that Australia is again taking up a defensive position in Iraq, I am heartened by the recent elevation of a more conciliatory and inclusive leadership in that country, which I hope will bring all of its citizens together. Defence Force representatives from the electorate of Solomon played key roles in the battle to liberate Iraq and then began the reconstruction after the 2003 ousting of the Saddam Hussein regime.

I am sure I speak for all those Australians who served in the Middle East on that occasion in saying that the path to unity can again be rebuilt. Only a unified position will put an end to what is going on in the Middle East, and I commend the steps taken by the Prime Minister and by Foreign Minister Julie Bishop in playing a lead role on the world stage in combating this evil.