THE HON. BILL SHORTEN
LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION
MEMBER FOR MARIBYRNONG
TANYA PLIBERSEK MP
DEPUTY LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION
SHADOW MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS AND INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENT
MEMBER FOR SYDNEY
HUMANITARIAN SITUATION IN IRAQ
FRIDAY, 8 AUGUST 2014
The humanitarian need in Iraq is significant, urgent and increasing.
We note that President Obama has authorised airstrikes in Iraq as a response to the US assessment that strikes may be necessary to prevent massacres of civilians.
Labor has been extremely concerned about reports of civilian deaths, and most recently, the targeting of tens of thousands of Yazidis trapped on a mountain without food and water.
The reports emerging from Iraq about the persecution by ISIS of any religion other than Sunni Islam are deeply troubling and we understand that strong action may be necessary to protect civilians.
In addition to the authorisation of air strikes should they become necessary, the United States has made airdrops of food and water to besieged civilians.
Australia must also offer humanitarian assistance to the people of Iraq.
I note that Australian government assistance to Iraq last year was $7.7 million. In the May budget that was cut to $0.
The leaders of Iraq should resolve immediately to form an inclusive government and settle the Presidency so that a united front can be presented against ISIS, a violent, extremist organisation.
If Australia is asked to provide military assistance, we would expect detailed briefings from the Government before making an assessment.
I will be meeting with US Secretary of State John Kerry in Sydney next week and will raise the situation with him then.