STATEMENT - Israel and West Bank Land

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The Israeli Government must reverse its decision to claim almost 400 hectares of land in the West Bank.

Ten days ago, Labor called on the Israeli Government to explain its actions.  Subsequent reports indicate the land may be used to expand Israeli settlements in the area.

Unilateral action like this, by any party, only undermines the peace process and the prospect of successfully negotiating a two-state solution.

It is particularly disappointing given recent agreement to a ceasefire that ended the terrible violence of the Gaza conflict.

Israeli settlement activity in the West Bank is not in line with international law.

Labor supports a return to negotiations between the parties for a lasting peace through a two state solution.

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TRANSCRIPT - Doorstop, Sydney, 11 September 2014

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SUBJECT/S: Tony Abbott’s Budget unfair on Australian women; Terror alert Level; Iraq; Treasury; Rozelle explosion.

BILL SHORTEN, LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: It’s great to be here at this remarkable community centre meeting some of the leaders making this community a better community, and also ensuring that the hidden pockets of misery are not ignored, but people are empowered to have better lives.

I’m here today with my Deputy Leader, Tanya Plibersek, our spokeswoman in matters to do with women’s affairs, Senator Claire Moore, and also Verity Firth, Labor’s candidate for this area in the upcoming state election.

Today the Australia Institute has confirmed what many Australians were afraid was true: that this Tony Abbott-Joe Hockey unfair Budget is particularly unfair to Australian women. And amongst Australian women to whom it is particularly unfair is women who earn less incomes, from lower income households.

Remarkable numbers today confirm that Tony Abbott has turned his back on working women, on women from poorer backgrounds in this unfair Budget. Why is it that Tony Abbott prefers to give CEOs generous tax breaks, yet install new taxes on working women who earn less than $35,000 year?

It is a disgrace that over 2 million Australian women, as a result of the Abbott Government, will be paying more tax on their superannuation. It is a disgrace that Australian working women who have lower account balances in superannuation are going to have their superannuation contributions frozen, contrary to the pre-election promises of the Abbott Government.

I might ask my colleague Tanya Plibersek to say a few words on the unfairness of this Budget. But what is becoming clearer and clearer every day since the unfair Budget is that it’ll be Australian women, especially ones from lower income households, who are going to pay the price for Tony Abbott’s broken promises and lies before the election.

TANYA PLIBERSEK, DEPUTY LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: Thank you. It’s wonderful to be here at Rozelle Neighbourhood Centre. This is a Neighbourhood Centre that has always provided a fantastic service in our local community, supporting vulnerable people who live in the community, people who live in public housing, people with disabilities.  A whole range of different people in our community get support from this Neighbourhood Centre, and that’s been especially apparent in the last week. We’ve had a terrible local tragedy, and this Neighbourhood Centre has been part of the glue holding this very close community together.

The work that’s done by the people in the Neighbourhood Centre is so important in our local community, but unfortunately it’s often lower paid and less valued than other types of work in our community. So if you’re a social worker for example, working in a neighbourhood centre, working for a women’s refuge, domestic violence service or a drug and alcohol service – you are already struggling on much lower wages than jobs with equivalent skills. When we were in government, we supported a wage increase for people working in the community sector, but it’s not just about the wages increase that these workers deserve. There are a whole range of things that impact on lower income working women in Australia today.

One of those things is the attack on their superannuation. Women make up two-thirds of the people, of the 3 million people who are getting the low income super contribution. They’ve lost $500 a year from their superannuation. We know also, at the same time Tony Abbott is protecting tax-breaks for high income super, at the same time as he is proposing to pay $50,000 to high income earners for paid parental leave, he is taking away the low-income super contribution for working women.

We also know of course, that women will be disproportionately affected by the increased cost of university education. Women once they leave university often have more broken working patterns because they are more likely to take time out of the workforce to have children.  Think about the social workers who work in centres just like this around Australia. They study hard because they want to help their community; they leave university with the cost of a degree around their neck that might be 2 or 3 times the cost of a degree now because they often take time off to have children, they will take longer to pay it back and that means that interest on that university debt will continue to accumulate while they are out of the workforce having their kids. It means they will actually end up paying more for the same degree as the average man who won’t have that broken working pattern. The research that’s been done today shows the disproportionate effect of this unfair budget on Australian women and particularly, on lower-income Australian women.

SHORTEN: Thanks Tanya. Are there any questions?

JOURNALIST: Mr Shorten, do you think it is appropriate for the Government to raise the level of the terror alert?

SHORTEN: In terms of the terror alert getting raised, what matters is the best advice from our security agencies. On one hand, Labor accepts, with the rise of ISIS in northern Iraq and the recruitment of Australian citizens to become foreign fighters over there and to train them to send them back here to cause trouble, is a real, real problem. It is a real issue and appropriately our security agencies, the Government and the Opposition are treating this with the upmost seriousness. On the other hand, it’s important we don’t unduly panic people. I am confident that our security officials will act in the best interests of our security and Labor is supportive of what needs to be done in terms of making sure that Australians are secure in Australia.

JOURNALIST: There are reports SAS soldiers will be sent to Iraq, do you agree with those moves?

SHORTEN: In terms of sending soldiers to Iraq, Labor has had a clear position on this whole matter. First of all we do support humanitarian relief, we believe that Australia’s efforts thus far have been about the protection of innocent civilians. Secondly we do believe that ISIS has an insatiable appetite for violence, for using religion to justify extreme acts of behaviour. So we do think there is a clear problem to be dealt with in Iraq. In terms of whether or not further Australian defence personnel are engaged in supporting the humanitarian process we will wait until the Government formally advises us on this matter. We understand that the American President is speaking almost as I speak now and Labor has set out some clear principles for engagement. We will continue to treat this issue, not a political issue but as a matter of national security.

JOURNALIST: Mr Bowen has said that major budget forecasts should be done by the Parliamentary Budget Office, not the Treasury, what do you think of this?

SHORTEN: I understand that Chris is speaking today at lunch time, I am supportive of what our shadow treasurer is saying on this matter.

JOURNALIST: He’s defended Treasury forecasts in the past though so why would he change it?

SHORTEN: Well Chris will give a very informative speech, I’m not going to steal his thunder. Sufficed to say that we do believe that these forecasts and this process should be as independent as possible and transparent as possible.

JOURNALIST: Isn’t Treasury best placed to do this type of forecasting?

SHORTEN: I beg your pardon,  sorry –

JOURNALIST: Isn’t Treasury the best place to do this kind of forecasting?

SHORTEN: Well Chris has worked hard on his speech, I will let Chris explain these matters when he gives the talk.

JOURNALIST: You’re here in Rozelle after the last weeks deadly explosion, and obviously you’ve seen all the tributes on the street here, is there anything you want to say about that?

SHORTEN: I think that when innocent people are taken unexpectedly in the most shocking of circumstances that we all feel diminished. Tanya and Verity have been explaining to me what a tight knit community this is and that the ripple effects of this terrible event are going to be felt for a long, long time. My thoughts are with the families, it’s unbelievable what’s happened and I can only feel extreme sadness.

Thanks everyone.


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TRANSCRIPT - Doorstop Interview, Logan City, Wednesday 10 September 2014

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SUBJECT/S: Health, education, pensions, superannuation, national security.

[Audio cuts in]

TANYA PLIBERSEK, DEPUTY LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: I do not think anyone would have voted for Tony Abbott a year ago if they had known that he was going to break his promise on health, break his promise on education, break his promise on pensions, break his promise on superannuation, break his promise on jobs. A year into the Abbott Government, a government that came to office promising no cuts to health, no cuts to education, no change to pensions and no new taxes, we’ve seen every one of those promises broken.

Just this morning I have been visiting Logan Hospital which has a fantastic new facility, a new emergency department and new facilities there for both adults and children. That’s an investment made by the previous Labor Government and it is a terrific illustration of the difference between Labor’s approach to health and the Liberals’ approach to health.

When we were in government we invested, and what we have seen since the election of Campbell Newman and Tony Abbott are health cuts, one after the other. The Abbott Government has cut $80 billion from health and education, $50 billion from hospitals alone. You see Campbell Newman's government presiding over 4400 job cuts in the Queensland health system. A real attack on the staff of the Queensland health system who only want to look after their patients and give them the top quality care that they know that Queenslanders deserve. So you have on the one hand Campbell Newman making cuts to hospitals here in Queensland and on the other hand you’ve got Tony Abbott in Canberra making cuts to hospitals and also introducing $7 GP co-payments, increasing the cost of medicines, cutting $400 million from public dental, cuts right across the book. No one would have voted for Tony Abbott if they had known about the health cuts, and no one would have voted for Campbell Newman if they had known about health cuts.

Looking at education now. Cuts to schools, $30 billion despite Tony Abbott's promise that he was on a unity ticket with Labor on the Gonski school education [inaudible]. And now the people in Logan will miss out because of these massive cuts to schools and education. But it is not just schools, $1 billion cut from childcare, $30 billion cut from schools and now $100,000 university degrees. So from the time that a child first goes into childcare, right through their schooling right through TAFE and university, cuts right through their educational life.

And next we will be talking here in this community hall to pensioners. Pensioners believed Tony Abbott when he said “no change to pensions” but we know that there are massive changes to pensions. The Government's own Budget papers show a $23 billion cut to pensions. What does that mean for an average pensioner? Well, Tony Abbott is changing the rate that the pension will increase, he is changing the indexation of the pension and if the changes that Tony Abbott is making had been in place over the last four years a pensioner would be $1500 a year worse off. So if Tony Abbott’s proposal had been the way things were done over the last four years, pensioners would be $1500 a year worse off. What does that mean for the future? It means that pensioners will be $80 a week worse off because of the changes that Tony Abbott is proposing. He is also going to make people wait longer to get the pension. That is particularly hard on blue-collar workers, working till you are 70 if you’re doing heavy lifting and manual work. That is really tough and of course Tony Abbott is also making it harder for people to save for their own retirement.

We know that with the changes he's announced on superannuation, someone who is 25 years old today will be $100,000 worse off in their retirement income. We know as well that our pool of national savings will be affected by that. Australia has done really well economically - tough times like during the Global Financial Crisis, in part because we had our own national savings. By 2025 we will have almost $130 billion less in national savings because of Tony Abbott's attack on superannuation. This goes to show that what Tony Abbott said when he said superannuation was a con is still the way he thinks of it. It is incredible that Tony Abbott does not just want to cut the pension, he wants to make it harder for people to save for retirement by not proceeding with increases in superannuation, by cutting the Low Income Superannuation Contribution for about 3 million workers and by making it harder for us to save as much for the future.

And I want to make one last comment and then I’ll hand over to Jim, Tony Abbott has broken promise after promise during his first year in government. But there is one promise it looks like he will keep, Tony Abbott promised 1 million new jobs, we just thought some of them would be in Australia. Jim.

JIM CHALMERS: Welcome Tanya to Logan City. It is not the first time that Tanya has been to Logan and it won’t be the last.

I think among the many lies that Mr Abbott told over a year ago to get himself elected, one of the lowest acts was to lie to these pensioners that we’re about to meet with, when he told them that there would be “no change to pensions”. Of course, as Tanya explained, there are massive decreases in the pension going forward and that will impact on people around here, good people who are just trying to make ends meet. And when you combine the attack on the pension system with what they are doing to push up the price of petrol, of medicine, of visiting the doctor plus of course the cuts to hospital funding that Tanya also mentioned, this is nothing but an attack on good people, good local people who are just trying to make ends meet from week to week.

Our message to Tony Abbott and Joe Hockey is if you think that local people, local pensioners are going to forget this attack come election time, you have got another thing coming.

PLIBERSEK: Okay any questions?

JOURNALIST: Yes, Ms Plibersek, are you concerned at all about the potential to upgrade the terror threat in Australia at the moment?

PLIBERSEK: I think it is very important that all Australians are alert to any increase in the potential for a terrorist event in Australia. Of course, we receive as the Opposition, we receive frequent briefings from our national security agencies and whenever our national security agencies have argued for stronger powers in order to be able to protect Australians, we have been very supportive of these additional powers. Of course with additional powers come additional responsibilities and we have also made sure that independent oversight is included in any additional powers that the security agencies have granted.

JOURNALIST: Have those briefings indicated that the terror threat should be heightened?

PLIBERSEK: Well I am not going to speak about the details of the briefings that we get from our national security agencies. I think it is important that a very well respected leader like David Irvine is accorded the respect and attention that his warnings deserve and I think his comments speak for themselves.

JOURNALIST: The Greens say they’re concerned that if the terror threat level is raised there could be repercussions on ordinary Australians’ civil liberties. Does that concern you?

PLIBERSEK: Well I think what is very clear is that we are in a time internationally where there are heightened risks. I do not think anybody could ignore the fact that we have many Australians, dozens fighting overseas at the moment with organisations like IS, which are extremely dangerous organisations that are engaged in genocidal campaigns against ethnic and religious minorities overseas. I think it is foolish to ignore that sort of risk. On the other hand, if we argue for greater powers for our excellent security agencies here in Australia, those greater powers have to come with greater transparency and oversight as well. Australians value our freedom, we value the fact that we are a strong, multicultural democracy and that means that additional security measures come with additional accountability.

JOURNALIST: The former head of army, Peter Leahy, said today that if Australia gets involved in fighting ISIS directly that inevitably, or that could inevitably increase the risk of a terror attack in Australia. Would you agree with this assessment?

PLIBERSEK: I think that we need to be alert to any risk to Australians on Australian soil. It is clear that we have had Australians who have gone overseas and fought overseas, we’ve also had Australians who have returned from overseas. It is important that we are very focused on keeping Australians safe. I am not going to get into a discussion about the relative merits of the comments of two very senior and respected members of our intelligence and security operations.

JOURNALIST: Alright, one more final question on this issue though if I can. The Essential Media survey released overnight showed I think 54 per cent of Australians are directly and vehemently opposed to us having feet on the ground. Would you think that is likely to change?

PLIBERSEK: Well Labor has been very supportive of the humanitarian efforts in northern Iraq. Those humanitarian efforts started with providing food, water, medicines and so on to people who were surrounded on Mount Sinjar. Those humanitarian efforts have extended now to reaming fighters in northern Iraq, the Peshmerga and other Iraqi forces because to allow Iraqis to be slaughtered by IS because they’ve run out of weapons is a position that Australia could not accept. As a member of the international community, we join with the international community to acknowledge that when the government of Iraq asks us for help to protect its civilians against a genocidal army flooding across the border from Syria, we as an international community share a responsibility to protect. What we have seen in IS attacks are attacks on civilians, men, women, children, we have seen murder on a massive scale, forced abortions, rape, brutality that is - any number of examples of extraordinary brutality - we are being asked by the elected government in Iraq to help its people fight off this threat and I think it is important that Australia as a responsible member of the international community to contribute to that effort. Up till now it has been made very clear by the Prime Minister, by Bill Shorten as the Labor Leader and indeed by President Obama that there is no expectation that we will be putting regular forces on the ground in Iraq. Instead our mission is to support the Iraqis to fight off this threat on their own land.


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MEDIA RELEASE - One Year of the Abbott Government: A Disaster for Overseas Aid

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One year of the Abbott Government has been a disaster for Australia’s overseas aid program, with nothing but massive cuts and broken promises.

In his first Budget, Prime Minister Tony Abbott cut $7.6 billion from overseas aid, breaking his pre-election promise to increase investment in line with the Consumer Price Index.

Two days before the election, Mr Abbott promised:

“We will index the increase to the Consumer Price Index.”


The $7.6 billion cut to overseas aid was the single biggest cut in the Budget.

And despite promising before the election to focus overseas aid on our region, Foreign Minister Julie Bishop has cut $110 million from aid to the Asia-Pacific - in just one year alone.

On focusing overseas aid on our region:

“The Coalition will focus our…foreign aid activities on our region…”


For more information visit


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TRANSCRIPT - Today Show, In the House, Friday 5 September 2014

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SUBJECT/S: Australia Post, Iraq.

KARL STEFANOVIC, PRESENTER: Just more on Australia Post now, we’ve got Malcolm Turnbull joining us along with Tanya Plibersek. Good morning, guys. Nice to see you. What is the likely outcome there? What’s going to happen? You can’t sustain those losses over a long period of time.

MALCOLM TURNBULL, MINISTER FOR COMMUNICATIONS: Well, the only solution really for Australia Post is to cut the cost of its mail business. I mean, people are not- we are not sending letters in the way we did, personally or at business level. What the company is arguing for is that there should be different classes of mail, so that most letters would not arrive the next day but arrive in three days. And then if you wanted to send a letter that would arrive next day that would be at a premium. But it is very tough because it is a high fixed cost business and the revenue is just declining year after year.

STEFANOVIC: So what is going to happen then? There are still a number of people, I’m sure pensioners rely on getting their mail like that, so there is going to be a transitional period. When will the cut backs start? They’ll have to start soon.

TURNBULL: Well the Government- we are considering what the company has put to us, we’re considering the independent report that BCG did for us. So we are literally- this is under consideration.

STEFANOVIC: What do you think is likely to happen?

TANYA PLIBERSEK, DEPUTY LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: Well, I think it is interesting that the parcel business is still so strong. It is a real sign of the way the economy is changing and the way that we live is changing. Of course we have to look at it long-term.


TURNBULL: Can I make a point about that just to - you basically need over three dollars of parcel revenue to make up for every dollar of lost letter revenue and it is not growing at anything like that ratio. So, yes the parcel business is growing but its profits are swamped by the losses in the letter business and that will get bigger unless we make some tough decisions.

PLIBERSEK: We’ve just got to keep in our minds that it is a big country and a lot of people live in regional and remote areas and we do not want to do anything that cuts them off from their communications.

TURNBULL: No, no, that is absolutely right.

STEFANOVIC: Alright, let’s move on. We know that the leaders are getting it together overseas to discuss the growing problem with the Islamic State. There were a number of drops overnight from Australian aircraft into the troubled areas. There is seen to be growing momentum now for some sort of ground involvement. Are you preparing us for that? Should the Australian public be prepared for that eventuality, and sooner rather than later?

TURNBULL: What the Prime Minister has said is that the decisions relating to military involvement in Iraq will be taken by the Cabinet and indeed with consultation with the Opposition. The decision that we have taken to date is for the Air Force to deliver arms and other supplies to the Iraqi defence forces and of course the Kurdish Peshmerga to ensure they have the means to stand up against this death cult, ISIL, that is rampaging across Iraq and Syria. But any further steps, you know, could be considered but at this stage we are not sending Australian troops on the ground.

STEFANOVIC: Tanya, you told the ABC we needed to ensure any action left the place better not worse. How would that be measured?

PLIBERSEK: I think the first and most important task right now is to prevent genocide. The reason that Australia is arming the Peshmerga and other forces in the north is because IS are bent on killing everyone who is different from them. The Peshmerga, the Kurdish fighters are really the most effective fighting force holding that back. They are not just defending Kurdish land and Kurdish people but other religious and ethnic minorities. So the first measure of success is preventing genocide and ethnic cleansing. Longer term I think it is just important to keep in our minds that after the invasion of Iraq in 2003 there was involvement there from the US, from Australia, Britain and other countries for a long time. But it did not stabilise Iraq. So there needs to be a clear objective now, which is to prevent genocide. Of course we support that. We have been very supportive of that. Longer term we need to make sure that we are supporting the Iraqi people to fight off IS and the Iraqi people to provide stable government in their own land.

STEFANOVIC: The Greens are urging Australians not to call Islamic State terrorists. Are you comfortable with calling them terrorists?

PLIBERSEK: Of course they are terrorists. They’re using death and fear to try to control a whole population.

TURNBULL: They are the absolute definition. What planet are the Greens on, that’s a good question.

STEFANOVIC: We all have agreement - we don’t know what planet they’re living on.

TURNBULL: Certainly not in our solar system that’s for sure. They are literally –  they never fail to disappoint on the downside the Greens. At this moment what could be - it is difficult to imagine a more quintessentially terrorist act than what ISIL has been undertaking with these mass killings. Killing, beheading people on video.

PLIBERSEK: Fear, propaganda, violence.

TURNBULL: It’s classic terrorism. I find it staggering what the Greens are saying.

PLIBERSEK: It is designed to instil fear and it’s designed to gain an objective through the use of murder as a propaganda weapon. It’s terrorism.

TURNBULL: Of course. You’re right.

STEFANOVIC: It’s some very, very heavy news around at the moment, we appreciate you coming in today.

PLIBERSEK: Thank you.

TURNBULL: Very good to be here.


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STATEMENT - Loss of Life in Pakistan

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Labor welcomes reports Pakistan’s political crisis may be nearing resolution, with Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf MPs returning to the parliament.

Labor is extremely concerned at the loss of life around recent protests in Pakistan, and by reports of three dead and at least two hundred wounded.

We urge all parties to exercise calm and restraint to limit any further risk to human life.

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TRANSCRIPT - ABC Capital Hill, Wednesday 3 September 2014

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SUBJECT/S: Iraq, Ukraine, G20.

GREG JENNETT, PRESENTER: Well, these tough times in world security and diplomacy means there is a lot for the Opposition to keep across too. Tanya Plibersek has been getting the odd briefing or two on current events as Shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs and she is with us today. The Sotloff execution has drawn widespread condemnation, as you would expect. Do you think these postings are meant to try to draw the west into the fight and if so, will it work?

TANYA PLIBERSEK, DEPUTY LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: Well, they certainly have a propaganda purpose. It is an absolutely tragic death, unfortunately this journalist has been held for about a year since his kidnapping. After the execution of James Foley, I imagine his family would have been very, very worried about his safety and now their worst fears have been confirmed. But the intention of the executor is to send a message. They say a message to stay away. I think it's equally possible that it's a message that's designed to encourage and attract fighters from other parts of the world into the region to support IS in their campaign.

JENNETT: And we have seen the western response, indeed touched on it in this program already, we have humanitarian assistance. Do you see a strategy or an objective in where the west is going with all of this at the moment?

PLIBERSEK: Yes, there is a very clear objective, and that's to prevent genocide and mass atrocity crimes, particularly in northern Iraq. There is very substantial evidence of many lives lost already. The UN Human Rights Council has authorised an investigation into these existing mass atrocity crimes that have already said to have occurred. We know that many people have lost their lives, others have been sold into slavery, women and children. This is a terrible campaign from IS, and the effort is completely engaged in preventing further mass atrocity crimes.

JENNETT: Did that prevention strategy, is it sustainable long-term or do you get to a point where you are saying we’re putting all this effort into prevention, something has to be done about cause?

PLIBERSEK: Well, I think supporting Iraqis to fight IS on their own land, fight them - prevent them encircling whole towns, prevent them cutting off ethnic minorities and then going in to commit genocidal crimes, I think that that is a very important objective of this campaign, and I think it's very important that Australia and the international community support it. We have heard from the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon that he and the United Nations have said that they support action including military action to support the Iraqis in fighting IS. There is an international effort, including from the countries that didn't support the 2003 invasion of Iraq, and indeed that's Labor's position, we certainly were very opposed to the 2003 invasion of Iraq and that's been proved right over time. But what we are looking at now, not imminent deaths, deaths have already occurred on a very large scale, what we are trying to do is prevent more of those, the Peshmerga are the most effective fighting force in northern Iraq. They are running out of ammunition to fight IS, in their own lands, and on top of defending themselves, of course, they are providing a sanctuary for Christian minorities and other ethnic minorities in the Kurdish autonomous region and in the region they have got some control over. I think that's something the international community has a responsibility to support.

JENNETT: Alright, well let's go to NATO now. Julie Bishop will be talking to G20 member countries there about Vladimir Putin. Does it appear to you that there is an emerging consensus working up about blocking him from the Brisbane meeting?

PLIBERSEK: Well, very soon after the shooting down of MH17, Bill Shorten made very clear that he thought Australians would find it very hard to welcome Vladimir Putin to Australia, particularly at that time as Russia was denying any involvement or any support for Russian-backed separatists. And we still see the Russians are denying that they have got troops in Ukraine, despite every clear evidence that they do, so there is a very serious international problem in Ukraine at the moment. NATO is an appropriate place to discuss it. The Foreign Minister is right in saying this is not a decision for Australia alone, it's a decision that G20 nations would have to make together. But certainly a discussion at NATO, which includes any change to the invitation of the G20, is an important one to have.

JENNETT: Is there a risk there though in isolating a fellow like this, because conventional diplomacy says you keep people in the tent, Jaw Jaw is better than War War and all of that, but could there be a downside to taking that action?

PLIBERSEK: Well, I think there are some risks. One risk is that other countries are not supportive of Australia's suggestion, that other countries might even not attend themselves. That's a risk that we obviously wouldn't encourage. I think that there is a possibility that Vladimir Putin himself will say I don't want to come to your G20 meeting in Brisbane anyway. I think that's probably a likely outcome of any discussion like this. There is an argument that we need to keep engaging with Russia, but it's important to acknowledge too, that there are very, very clear acts of aggression happening right now, that Ukrainian soldiers have died in significant numbers, and our own interest in this, with our 38 Australians that were killed doing absolutely nothing, but what many of us have done so many times before, flying from Europe back home to Australia. It does mean that there is an issue here that Australians have a particular interest in.

JENNETT: Alright, well it looks like the Government’s got a pretty supportive ally in the Opposition in Australia at least. So Tanya Plibersek, thank you for that today.

PLIBERSEK: Thank you.


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TRANSCRIPT - The Doors, Wednesday 3 September 2014

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SUBJECT/S: Iraq, Ebola, India, MRRT.

TANYA PLIBERSEK, DEPUTY LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: Look, I’ve come out this morning to talk about the tragic death of Steven Sotloff. This is another confirmation that IS in Iraq and in Syria are a barbaric organisation that follows none of the rules of war. Steven was abducted more than a year ago now and his tragic death, it underscores the type of enemy that the Iraqis are fighting. Australia has decided to help supply the Peshmerga, the most effective fighting force in northern Iraq at the moment to hold back this force which has killed everyone that has stood in its way, murdered, abducted, sold into slavery, women and children, that has besieged whole towns and set out to wipe out whole communities. I know that yesterday, that the Secretary-General of the United Nations, Ban Ki Moon, also gave his support including to military action to hold back IS. This is a very serious fight and our Australians who are involved in supporting the Iraqis to hold back this threat are doing a terrific job, a very necessary job.

I want to say a couple of things about Syria as well, because people have said on the one hand, you’re intervening in Iraq by supporting the Peshmerga, how is Syria different? IS, the same organisation originally started in Iraq transferred to Syria, grew its strength and is now back in Iraq. There’s one very key difference, and that is the Iraqi Government has asked for Australian support against IS. And unfortunately in Syria, the civil war now means that there is no credible partner with which to fight IS. Any support of a similar type to Assad’s troops in Syria would empower a regime that is a brutal regime, that is also accused of mass atrocity crimes, including using gas against its own- chemical weapons against its own civilian population. That doesn’t mean that the world community should turn its back on Syria. Australia has been asked as part of the international community to do more for Syria. The United Nations has called for a rebuilding fund of humanitarian- a rebuilding fund of around 6 billion dollars and so far the Abbott Government has only contributed less than 30 million dollars to the relief effort in Syria. We also see that there are millions of refugees in Syria and Iraq, well over a million in Iraq, well over 6 million in Syria, another area where Australia could do substantially more than we are.

I want to turn now - does anyone have any comments or questions about the international issues before I talk about domestic issues?

JOURNALIST: Just firstly on Iraq and the use of propaganda, the video uploaded says that Steven Sotloff is paying the price for US air strikes. So, does that give you pause or does that make you think about potential ramifications for Western nations, Australia in particular?

PLIBERSEK: Well I think it’s true that IS are using this as a propaganda opportunity to try and warn off- not just the United States, this is an international effort. Well over a hundred countries have agreed at the UN Human Rights Committee to launch an investigation into the mass atrocity crimes that have occurred in Iraq. This is an international effort against IS. But of course IS will use any propaganda opportunity it has to try and frighten off or intimidate the international community. I think given the many thousands of Iraqis that have lost their lives, it is important for us an international community, to say that our responsibility to protect Iraqi citizens has been engaged. Their government has asked for the support of the international community. I feel so very sad for Steven Sotloff, for James Foley before him, for any civilian who is caught up in this fight. We know their names, because of the propaganda efforts of the IS. We don’t know the names of the thousands of Iraqis who have lost their lives, thousands of women and children who have been sold into slavery to IS fighters. So tragic, our hearts go out to their families. We know how important the work is that foreign correspondents do because without the work of people like Steven Sotloff and James Foley and our own correspondents who are in war zones around the world at the moment, the world wouldn’t know about these shocking events. These people would sink into anonymity for us and sink into, unfortunately, indifference because we wouldn’t be seeing the impact of IS on northern Iraq and Syria without the reporting of journalists. But I don’t think we can do what IS wants us to do and give up the support of the Iraqi Government because of the propaganda that they launched.

JOURNALIST: So any lessons for the international community then?

PLIBERSEK: Well there is a very strong lesson for the international community from the events of 2003 when the Iraqi invasion happened without giving proper time to weapons inspectors to do their work. It happened without credible evidence of weapons of mass destruction and it was later found to be false, it happened without international sanction, without the support of many nations and I think that that is an important lesson and it seems to me that President Obama who was a strong opponent of the invasion in 2003 has learnt that lesson, the effort that he’s putting in to building an international coalition to support the Iraqis and the fact that the Iraqi Government has asked for this intervention does make it a very different situation. But we need to learn the lessons of 2003, that’s a mistake that should never be repeated.

JOURNALIST: Ms Plibersek overnight Medicines Sans Frontier has warned that the world is losing the battle against Ebola. Should Australia be doing more?

PLIBERSEK: Well Australia has cut $7.6 billion from its aid budget. It is the single largest cut in this year’s budget. One dollar in every five of savings is from overseas development assistance. This is a real event where Australia could and should be doing more. But it is difficult to see how that is supported with a $7.6 billion cut to the aid budget. Africa is one of the countries that has suffered most from these cuts to the aid budget. Our aid to Africa has been reduced dramatically. Now we were told by the Foreign Minister Julie Bishop that Africa is a long way away, we’ve got no real responsibility to Africa, why are we involved in an area so far away from our region? But of course the consequences of a massive outbreak of Ebola, that health authorities are warning they are finding difficult to contain, obviously affects us globally. We’ve seen how quickly this illness can spread and how serious the consequences are.

JOURNALIST: How confident are you the Abbott Government is negotiating [inaudible]?

PLIBERSEK: Well we’ve received no briefing on any safeguards that might be negotiated, so we’ll wait and hear what safeguards have been negotiated.

JOURNALIST: The decision to sell uranium was actually made by the Gillard Government so how far down the track was that Government with negotiating safeguards?

PLIBERSEK: Well the Gillard Government had long and comprehensive discussions with the previous government of India. We had a change of government in Australia and a change of government in the world’s largest democracy so I think it’s important to hear what their intentions are.

JOURNALIST: Do you still think Australia should be selling uranium to India then and what are your concerns?

PLIBERSEK: Well India is an important economic partner for Australia and an important strategic country in our region. And I am delighted by how successful their elections were, how well run they were and the opportunity that hundreds of millions of Indians had to vote. As for any comments on uranium I’ll leave them until we know the details.

JOURNALIST: Can I just get a quick comment on the mining tax repeal, particularly the School Kids Bonus, is it time to admit that this is a School Kids Bonus which this government and this economy can’t afford?

PLIBERSEK: Well let me make a few comments about the domestic economy and the budget. Tony Abbott said a year ago that there would be no cuts to health, no cuts to education, no change to pensions and no new taxes. He has broken every one of those promises with this budget. And yesterday we saw a dirty deal that will leave Australians worse off. We know that the superannuation cuts will leave someone who is 25 years old now who is earning $55 000 a year by 2025 they will have missed out on more than $9000. If you’re talking about older people on higher wages that’s thousands more. When you look at what that means for retirement savings all together you are talking about easily $100 000 or more for the average worker that they’ll miss out on because instead of getting 12% into their super, they’ll get 9% of their wage into their superannuation.


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TRANSCRIPT - ABC Radio National, Tuesday 2 September 2014

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WALEED ALY, PRESENTER: Joined now by Tanya Plibersek, fresh from a division I think in the House, Labor's Deputy Leader and Shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Development. Thank you very much for joining us.


ALY: I’m very well. I’m a bit confused though, I’m not entirely sure of the precise details of the objective for this military intervention that has bipartisan support. Can you enlighten me?

PLIBERSEK: Well, it’s actually been laid out pretty clearly. The objective in the first instance is to provide humanitarian assistance and that up til now has included food, water, medicine, high-energy biscuits and so on. The next stage of it includes also providing ammunition to rearm the Peshmerga in the northern part of Iraq.

ALY: Right, I don’t understand those mechanics but to what end exactly? Are there a certain number of lives we’re trying to save, are we trying to beat ISIS back to a certain position, what- are we trying to defeat them? What is the end point here where we can draw a line and say that is done, it’s over, we’re successful, we can all go home.

PLIBERSEK: Well I think that the first thing to do is prevent the massive slaughter of civilians which is what’s in prospect at the moment. Thousands of lives have already been lost, thousands more people have been injured, more than a million people have been displaced from their homes. IS will kill anyone who is a different religion, different ethnic group or even people who are Sunni Muslims who don’t agree with the tactics they’re using in their fight through Iraq. So I think the immediate objective is to prevent slaughter and we are, Australia and other countries have agreed some time ago to an international doctrine called responsibility to protect, which says that when mass atrocity crimes are imminent that the international community has a responsibility to protect. You might have read Gareth Evans’ very clear articulation of this doctrine today in the Australian-

ALY: I did actually, yes.

PLIBERSEK: And I think was a very good explanation-

ALY: Well it’s interesting but didn’t he note that there were certain elements of it that were not entirely clear because it is a new doctrine that we are trying to work through and I suppose a lot of people-

PLIBERSEK: Well it’s actually not really that new. Gareth- an international commission that was commissioned by the Canadians around 2001 began the process - around 2005 the United Nations adopted it and since then what we have been doing is refining the cases in which it might be used. There have been instances where the world community has stood by and seen massive loss of civilian life because of inaction or action that’s come too late, and Rwanda is one obvious example.

ALY: Well including in Syria.

PLIBERSEK: Exactly so.

ALY: So, is the logic of this that we should have intervened in Syria and Australia should have somehow been part of the Coalition to intervene?

PLIBERSEK: Well I think that there is certainly a very strong moral case for more humanitarian assistance to Syria, Waleed. You know that the United Nations have called for a reconstruction fund there of around $6 billion and so far under the Abbott Government has contributed about $30 million. Of course there are massive numbers of refugees also who have been, about a third of the population, has been displaced in Iraq- sorry, in Syria and certainly we could do more to assist there, so I think that we could assist Syria. The difference between Iraq and Syria at this stage is in Iraq, the Iraqi Government have asked for international assistance. In Syria, there is much less clarity about who might ask for assistance and whether if we went in to support the Assad regime in fighting IS what the long-term consequences of that would be. So one of the elements that you have to consider with responsibility to protect is has there been- is there a legal basis for international intervention? The fact that the Iraqi Government has asked for support in fighting back IS gives a legal basis for it and that clear legal basis doesn’t exist in Syria but I do not think that that absolves us from a humanitarian responsibility. More than 190,000 lives have been lost in Syria to date, they haven’t all been lost at the hands of IS, they’ve been- I mean, I do not need to rehash for you the terrible crimes that have been committed on both sides against the civilian population in Syria. So there is a strong need for international attention but there are some legal differences between the two cases so our humanitarian assistance to Syria I think should be increased in the first instance because you’re right, it’s the same organisation moving with impunity back and forth across the Iraqi and the Syrian borders.

ALY: Well, you could argue, many have, that it is pointless trying to take them on Iraq and what you really need to do is be taking them on in Syria if you want to deal with them. But that’s why I ask the question about the limits of the mission because if we’re taking-

PLIBERSEK: Waleed, can I just interrupt you there. I think when you say things like ‘it’s pointless’, what you have to understand is that there are whole communities, whole towns that are besieged that are at imminent threat of massacre. The United Nations Human Rights Council have decided to send in a fact-finding mission because they expect that they will be gathering information on genocidal crimes and mass atrocity crimes. This is a very serious situation at the moment so it is one thing to talk about abstract and long-term strategic issues and we have to have a mind to those but we also need to deal with the imminent threat of mass atrocity crimes.

ALY: Okay but coming back to the question I was asking about what the end of this looks like, because we can intervene or arm militias or whatever it is that we think we’ll need to do in order to stave off imminent death, but what if that death- the threat of that death merely returns the minute we withdraw, does this mean a perpetual engagement? How do we make that judgement?

PLIBERSEK: And that is one of the things that has been in the forefront of our minds because many Australians remember the disaster that was the 2003 invasion of Iraq and Australia's part in that. It was wrongly conceived, it was done without international support, it was done against the wishes of the Iraqi people, it was done on the basis of wrong information around weapons of mass destruction, it was a disaster and nobody wants to repeat that disaster so we do need to think about what happens next and I think it was very brave, very brave and very honest of President Obama to say that the future is not clear, that there isn’t a mapped out response to how we rid the world of IS or organisations like it, rid the world of the impulse to kill in this way for extreme sectarian reasons but that does not absolve us of the responsibility now to protect civilians against the imminent threat of death, of forced marriage, of torture I mean I don’t need to go into the litany of – your listeners I’m sure are reading those stories in the newspaper.

ALY: No, no. No one’s denying that. I think it’s the application of the principles here where people start to raise questions. So for example we have a couple of texts that go supposed to this question of what exactly does the responsibility to protect connote?  So for example, one text message says ‘do we have a right to go to Syria without an invitation?’, raising the Syria thing.  Another one says ‘why didn’t we protect 2000 Palestinians?’ How exactly do you figure this out?

PLIBERSEK: Well there’s a couple of things in that. The first is I think we have a moral responsibility to help Syria and I have said that we should do that with humanitarian assistance but we have no legal basis for a similar intervention in Syria. We’re not being invited in by the Government of Syria and even if we were being invited in by the Government of Syria one of the other criteria that we have to look at is, would the place be better off after such an intervention, that is another question that we apply when thinking about responsibility to protect and-

ALY: Well do we know the answer to that in respect of this one?

PLIBERSEK: Well we know that we are preventing mass slaughter and I don’t think any of us has a crystal ball, I don’t think that you know, there are obvious problems that the Iraqi Government has had in bringing stability to the country and part of that has been because the Government of Iraq has behaved in a very sectarian manner, even in recent times and that is one of the reasons that there was the international pressure on Nouri al-Malaki to go and for Haider al-Abadi to replace him. It’s not- Iraq has been a very fragile place before 2003 but certainly that has been heightened since the international – or the American, Australian, British and other forces invasion of Iraq, so we do need to concentrate on what comes next in making sure that we argue for an inclusive, stable government of Iraq but this is not an action to replace the Government of Iraq in the same way that 2003 was. This action is immediate, it is based on meeting an immediate humanitarian danger. So it is very important to look at all of the criteria that you would be thinking about when you are asking is our responsibility to protect engaged in this case. I think the issue of Gaza is also a very important one and there was a great deal of international condemnation of the more than 2000 civilian deaths in Gaza and the fact in particular that many of those civilians were taking shelter in United Nations’ facilities when they lost their lives, or a number of those civilians were taking shelter in areas where they should have been safe. There was also a great deal of international condemnation of the rockets that Hamas continued to fire. I think it is extremely welcome that we have now got a ceasefire after 50 days of conflict but I am disturbed to see that there has been, as you would have seen reports of, it seems the Israeli Government has claimed around 400 hectares of land-

ALY: The land in the West Bank, yeah-

PLIBERSEK: So I think it is- it shows that there needs to be continued international support for parties in Israel and the Palestinian territories to go back to the negotiating table for a lasting peace. We can’t afford to see continued conflict in that area either.

ALY: Well indeed, I don’t think anyone would suggest that continued conflict is the answer to that. We did speak to Mark Regev incidentally on the appropriation of land yesterday, you can listen to that interview online if you have any interest in it, the spokesperson of course for Benjamin Netanyahu.  Tanya Plibersek, I better leave it there, but thank you very much for joining us tonight.

PLIBERSEK: Thanks, Waleed.


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SPEECH - Iraq - Response to Prime Ministerial Statement

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When Australians hear their government talk of involvement in Iraq again they have good reason to be cautious.

The disaster of the 2003 invasion colours every debate. And we should never forget its lessons.

As I said in a letter presented to then US Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice back in 2003 - the Bush administration, the Blair administration, and our own Howard administration rushed in.

They went in on the basis of false claims about Weapons of Mass Destruction, and before weapons inspectors had time to complete their work.

They went in without international support, without the support of the majority of the Iraqi population, or neighbouring countries.

Australia went in despite the hundreds of thousands of people who took to our streets in protest.

The result? Nearly a decade of conflict, hundreds of thousands dead, and significant instability in the region. In the context of this history, it is right that people urge caution now.


While history should inform our actions, it should not cloud a sober assessment of the facts of the current situation. Islamic State (IS) is an abhorrent, brutal force.

It is an organisation willing to kill anyone who is opposes it.

There are confirmed instances of IS engaging in widespread ethnic and religious cleansing, targeted killings, forced conversions, abductions, trafficking, slavery, sexual abuse, destruction of places of religious and cultural significance, and the besieging of entire communities.

There are reports of thousands of Iraqi civilian deaths, and thousands injured.

These reports are so serious that on Monday, the United Nations Human Rights Council authorised an investigation into mass atrocity crimes in Iraq.

And journalists like Steven Sotloff and James Foley brutally killed for propaganda purposes.

The UN refugee agency says around 1.2 million Iraqis have been forced to flee their homes. A humanitarian disaster already exists in Iraq.

The scale of the crisis has led to calls for the international community to assist. The United Nations Secretary-General, Ban-Ki Moon has said: “The international community must ensure solidarity.

Not a single country or organisation can handle this international terrorism.

“This has global concerns so I appreciate some key countries who have been showing very decisive and determined actions…without addressing this issue through certain means, including some military and counter-terrorist actions, we will just end up allowing these terrorist activities to continue.”

The Iraqi Government has asked for help in pushing back IS.

And Iraqi communities here in Australia have called for support too, including Kurds, Yezidhis, Christians, and other minorities.

Labor MPs have met with some of these groups and understand their fears for families and communities left behind in Iraq.

I welcome that the Prime Minister has ruled out sending Australian combat troops to Iraq – as that would be a gravely serious step indeed.

Labor has said clearly that we don’t want Australian regular forces on the ground in Iraq.

But Labor has backed Australia’s involvement in the current humanitarian mission in Iraq.


Australia should act, because as a decent international citizen we respect the doctrine of ‘responsibility to protect’.

‘Responsibility to protect’ is engaged when national authorities are unwilling or unable to protect their citizens from genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity.

Former Labor foreign minister, Gareth Evans, championed the idea of ‘responsibility to protect’.

Gareth is the driver of ‘responsibility to protect’ adoption by the UN, and the leading international authority on it.

He uses a set of criteria to judge when ‘responsibility to protect’ should be engaged.

On the current question of Iraq, these principles provide Labor a very useful framework to help guide whether we support Australian involvement – both now and into the future.

1. Just cause – Is the threat a serious and irreparable harm occurring to human beings?

• News reports, and briefings provided to the Opposition by Australian security agencies, make clear that communities in northern Iraq face serious threats from Islamic State, and that thousands have already been killed.

• Representatives of Kurdish, Assyrian Christian, and other communities in Australia have argued strongly that their communities in Iraq face genocide from Islamic State, which is highly intolerant of people and communities who do not subscribe to their own extreme version of Sunni Islam, or of Sunnis who oppose their violent jihad.

2. Right intention – Is the main intention of the military action to prevent human suffering or are there other motives?

• Unlike in 2003, there is no intention for regime change of the government of Iraq by US, Australia, or other countries, nor is there any attempt by countries to gain access to Iraq’s natural resources.

3. Final resort – Has every other measure besides military invention been taken into account? (This does not mean that every measure has to have been applied and failed, but that there are reasonable grounds to believe that only military action would work in that situation)

• The Iraqi Security Forces have proven incapable of protecting the communities in northern Iraq. Islamic State has shown it will not negotiate nor follow the rules of war.

• The advice of the security agencies is that the Peshmerga, the armed forces of the Kurdistan Regional Government, in the semiautonomous Kurdistan Region of Iraq, are the major, effective armed force currently in the northern region capable of resisting Islamic State. They are effective, and they are bearing the brunt of the fighting. Because the fighting is worst in the north, that’s where our help should primarily be directed.

4. Legitimate authority • The Abbott Government has advised the Opposition that current proposed actions have been authorised by the Government of Iraq. That was confirmed yesterday by the Iraqi Ambassador to Australia.

• The support of the UN Secretary-General is also very significant. We now see countries like Canada, which didn’t participate in the invasion in 2003, agreeing to be part of this humanitarian mission.

5. Proportional means – Are the minimum necessary means applied to secure human protection?

• This criterion is readily met for humanitarian aid drops including food, water, and medicine – and I congratulate our air force and other personnel who have already completed these vital missions, saving thousands of lives on Mt Sinjar.

• As for rearming the Peshmerga – the alternative is to watch IS, using sophisticated weapons it has captured on its forward march outgun the only force that has effectively been protecting civilians in the north. We are supporting Iraqis to defend themselves against a merciless enemy. The Peshmerga has for many years provided the Kurdish region of Iraq with a degree of security much better than in many other parts of Iraq.

6. Reasonable prospect – Is it likely that action will protect human life, and are the consequences of this action sure not to be worse than no action at all? • This is perhaps the most difficult question of all, because the history of Western influence in the Middle East is fraught with complexity.

• It’s hard to point to too many examples in which intervention has left a country clearly better off, and unfortunately there are too many instances where the opposite could be said.

• We are rightly cautious, especially after Australia’s previous involvement in Iraq, which saw our brave service men and women sent to fight in the wrong place for the wrong reasons.

• But I believe the humanitarian missions we are currently involved in meet this criteria. Allowing IS to slaughter whole communities cannot be allowed, so we must respond to the Iraqi call for assistance.

Of course, ‘responsibility to protect’ really seeks to answer one key question. That is, in the face of mass atrocity crimes: genocide, war crimes, or crimes against humanity - at what point can the international community no longer stand-by and do nothing?

It is Labor’s belief, based on the assessment of facts I have just provided, that Australia and the world have a ‘responsibility to protect’ and thus an obligation to act.

To borrow a phrase made famous by our chief of army - the standard you walk past is the standard you accept. Australia could no longer walk past. We had to do something in response to such unspeakable horror.


But as important, is making sure Iraq’s neighbours do something in response too.

That means countries like Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Qatar, and others should be encouraged to stand up and say ‘IS are beyond the pale and we will join in international efforts to defeat them’.

The conflict in Syria has been an important factor underpinning the rise of IS. The spread of IS from Iraq to Syria and then back again – returning much stronger and more brutal – underscores how critical it is for nations in the region to acknowledge this problem is bigger than any one of them.

More than 191,000 people have been killed in Syria. The scale of the humanitarian disaster in Syria has seen the impacts spill over into the region. More than 9 million displaced Syrians have to go somewhere, and that has seen both Lebanon and Jordan take in millions of refugees.

The legal authority doesn’t currently exist for similar support to Syria, but we should be doing a great deal more to assist Syrians in any case.

The UN has called for $6.5 billion in aid for the Syria crisis, the largest ever appeal for funds. Australia, under the Coalition, has given just pledged just $30 million or so in aid – a pathetic response to an enormous humanitarian need.

And we have agreed to take just 2,200 refugees from Syria and 2,200 from Iraq (as part of our regular intake) when millions are displaced and at risk.


As the Opposition Leader said earlier in the week, every action of IS is a betrayal of the millions of good people, of good conscience who follow Islam. The Islamic State does not represent the Islamic faith. That cannot be repeated often enough.

Likewise, action taken against IS is not action against Islam, and we must not allow any misrepresentation that this is the case.

By working with the international community, including countries with large Islamic populations like Indonesia and Malaysia, we can mobilise the power of mainstream Islam against minority extremism.

In fact, I note a group British Imams and scholars recently issued a Fatwa condemning Islamic State as a ‘tyrannical, extremist, heretical’ organisation committing ‘abhorrent’ massacres and persecution.

The Fatwa calls on muslims to oppose IS and follow the law of their homeland – in this case Britain.

Our own security chief, David Irvine, has stressed again and again that Australian muslims are ASIO’s best partners against violent extremists and I acknowledge the hardwork and personal cost that many Australians have borne in order to speak out against extremism.


What I have laid out today is Labor’s assessment of the situation in Iraq at this point in time.

I have explained why we have offered the Government our support for Australia’s humanitarian involvement thus far.

I have outlined the principles that will guide how Labor responds to any proposed further involvement by Australia. Labor believes there are circumstances where Australia has a responsibility to protect.

But as an opposition we also have the responsibility to question – to carefully scrutinise the approach put forward by the Government.

Labor will work constructively with the Government, but we’re no rubber stamp.

We’ll look at the facts and make sensible judgements.

National security is above politics, but such important decisions are never beyond question, interrogation, or criticism.

The decision to send Australian men and women into harm’s way should never be taken lightly, and Labor never will.

Our responsibility to the people of Iraq is to ensure any action Australia is involved in leaves the place better, not worse.

President Obama’s careful, considered response to this matter shows that maybe the international community has learned lessons from the disastrous 2003 invasion of Iraq.


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