TRANSCRIPT - The Government's inaction on protecting Afghani Interpreters

  • Speech

Today I rise to give voice to veterans from across Australia who are appalled by the failure of the Morrison government to act urgently to protect the Afghani interpreters, who served alongside our troops, shoulder-to-shoulder, from being threatened, hunted or killed by the Taliban.

Many veterans have spoken out on this issue - pleading with the Morrison Government to speed up the process of bringing interpreters and other locally engaged civilians who worked for the ADF and government agencies to safety.

The former Liberal Prime Minister, John Howard, got this right when he said Australia has an ethical duty to provide safe haven for Afghanis who aided Australia’s cause. 

Unlike our allies in the US or the UK, we are not organising special air lifts to bring these people here or indeed fast tracking their visa application process to ensure their safety. 

We should not underestimate the toll and “moral injury” this issue has for our veterans.

As Pete Evans, a veteran from my community, put it: “Australians don’t leave our mates behind. Australian soldiers were not trained to do that.” 

Pete Evans felt so strongly about this issue he burnt his medals in front of me and asked for them to be presented to the Prime Minister in the Australian Parliament. 

Likewise Stuart McCarthy asked me to do the same.

Prime Minister you know the significance of these medals.  I ask you not to let these veterans down and bring these afghani interpreters and their families to safety as a matter of urgency.

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