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Thursday, 12 November 2015
Page: 8440


Senator LUDLAM (Western AustraliaCo-Deputy Leader of the Australian Greens) (12:44): I ask that general business notice of motion No. 898, standing in my name and in the name of Senator Singh for today, which relates to Medecins Sans Frontieres and the bombing of the hospital in Kunduz, be taken as a formal motion.

The DEPUTY PRESIDENT: Is there any objection to this motion being taken as formal?

Senator Fifield: Yes.

The DEPUTY PRESIDENT: Formality has not been granted, Senator Ludlam.

Senator LUDLAM: Mr Deputy President, I seek leave to make a brief statement.

The DEPUTY PRESIDENT: Leave has been granted for one minute.

Senator LUDLAM: It is hard to know where to start. This is a motion which should have been given the ability to have been voted on formally. The minister may want to make an explanation as to why on earth he would oppose a motion offering, on behalf of the Senate, condolences to MSF for the deadly bombing of its hospital by United States forces in Kunduz, Afghanistan, which killed 22 people, including 12 MSF staff and 10 patients. This is the only trauma facility of its kind in north-eastern Afghanistan. The motion proposes nothing more than does NATO Supreme Commander General Philip Breedlove—and NATO has the lead in Afghanistan and we have been working with ISAF forces there since 2001—who has publicly supported the call for an investigation by the International Humanitarian Fact-Finding Commission, not by the US military itself.

This is, prima facie, a war crime. It should be treated in a much less cavalier fashion than simply the denying of leave on a motion in this place. It needs proper and independent investigation.