SENATOR PENNY WONG
LEADER OF THE AUSTRALIAN LABOR PARTY IN THE SENATE
SHADOW MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS
LABOR SENATOR FOR SOUTH AUSTRALIA
SENATOR KRISTINA KENEALLY
DEPUTY LABOR LEADER IN THE SENATE
SHADOW MINISTER FOR HOME AFFAIRS
SHADOW MINISTER FOR IMMIGRATION AND CITIZENSHIP
SHADOW MINISTER FOR GOVERNMENT ACCOUNTABILITY
SENATOR FOR NEW SOUTH WALES
BRENDAN O'CONNOR MP
SHADOW MINISTER FOR DEFENCE
MEMBER FOR GORTON
The rapid deterioration of the situation in Afghanistan is devastating – particularly the increased attacks against civilians by the Taliban.
This is a deeply distressing time for Australians of Afghan descent, and Afghan visa holders in Australia who fear for the safety of their loved ones.
What we are seeing in Afghanistan only underscores the importance of ensuring our friends are brought to safety.
“The Afghan civilians who worked alongside Australian soldiers and diplomats, who wore Australian uniforms and who kept our people safe now face increasing threats to their lives and the lives of their families, because of the assistance they provided our nation,” said Senator Penny Wong.
“The Morrison-Joyce Government must act urgently to get these people and their families to safety.”
It is in our national interest, and in the interest of our troops, to expedite the processing of these visas.
“If we neglect these people that risked their lives it will limit our ability to recruit local staff in future conflicts and in peacekeeping operations,” Brendan O’Connor said.
“We know from talking to veterans that this issue is exacerbating their existing trauma as they see it as leaving their mates behind.”
Our major allies understand the urgency and are ramping up evacuations - including to third countries while processing takes place.
Labor has been calling on the Morrison-Joyce Government to fast-track this process for months. Mr Morrison should be providing leadership and working with Coalition Partners to explore all options to get these people to safety – including options for evacuation to third countries.
In 2008, in similar circumstances when Iraqi’s were being given visas to Australia, there was a bipartisan effort to send a team of government officials overseas to assist them to complete their applications.
While every case must be considered on its individual merits – including security considerations – the Morrison-Joyce Government’s bureaucratic delays clearly pale in comparison to what other countries are doing.
Mr Morrison must stop making excuses and act.
Authorised by Paul Erickson, ALP, Canberra.