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Wednesday, 9 September 2015
Page: 6408


Senator ABETZ (TasmaniaLeader of the Government in the Senate, Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Public Service and Minister for Employment) (15:17): The government opposes the motion; no case has been put in relation to urgency. The last thing our service men and women need is the strategic thinking and input of the Australian Greens as to how we might conduct military activities overseas. I think what they actually want is the advice of the intelligence services and the men and women who are at the apex of the Defence organisation. The Leader of the Australian Greens, as is their wont, hypocritically asserted that I engage in the activity of 'the refuge of the scoundrel' and he accused the Australian Prime Minister of sending young Australian service men and women into a theatre for only one purpose—that is, his own political benefit. That is a disgraceful suggestion. It is beneath contempt. And yet, while they say it is outrageous to say anything against their motives, they drop it by the bucket load on the Prime Minister and say that is all fair. Their antics today show that the leader of the Australian Greens is completely unprepared in terms of the standing orders on how to go about this matter. They then presented an argument devoid of any substance.

The important thing for Australian service men and women is that they be part of a group of other countries in this theatre that can fight this evil.

Senator Whish-Wilson: Which evil are you talking about?

Senator ABETZ: Senior Whish-Wilson, this is the exact example we need: 'What evil? Excuse me, I see no evil in Daesh! I see no evil in people being beheaded. I see no evil in—

The DEPUTY PRESIDENT: Senator Abetz, resume your seat. Senator Whish-Wilson on a point of order.

Senator Whish-Wilson: Mr Deputy President, Senator Abetz deliberately misquoted me. I said 'Which evil are you talking about?' not 'What evil?'

The DEPUTY PRESIDENT: That is not a point of order; it is a debating point. Resume your seat. Senator Abetz, you have the call.

Senator ABETZ: The suggestion is that somehow this is an illegal activity. The United States, the United Kingdom and other countries are involved in it. And I tried my luck during question time when I quoted article 51. It has been confirmed that I was right. Article 51 does allow for collective defence measures to be taken such as the ones we are now going to be involved in in relation to Syria. Senator Di Natale says 'How long is it going to take?' Everybody wishes that they could have a definitive answer. It is so easy to stand in this place and ask questions that no man can answer. It is like the question 'How long will it take to put the bushfire out?' It depends on how the wind blows, whether the rain comes and whether a tanker breaks down on the way to the fire—imponderables that you can never fully take into account. It is the same with conflicts around the world. How long will it take? Of course, nobody can answer that. But this we know: the longer it takes to defeat Daesh, the more people will be beheaded and the more women will be raped and then killed. Moet depravity will occur. More antiquities will be destroyed. More vandalism will occur. All the while, the Australian Greens answer to this is 'Oh, if we have a debate in the Australian Senate, Daesh might actually be listening and decide "No, we should not go on this particular raid today. No, we won't behave in this particular offensive manner today."'

Sometimes, regrettably, evil has to be fought with force. That is why the Prime Minister's announcement today is such a good and balanced one. It has a military component, to try to defeat the evil which is one of the causes of the mass migration, whilst on the other hand also providing humanitarian assistance to the victims in the short term. (Time expired)