ABC Radio Adelaide Breakfast - 16/08/2021

16 August 2021

SUBJECT: Afghanistan.

ALI CLARKE, HOST: Penny Wong is the Shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs and she's with us. Good morning.


DAVID BEVAN, HOST: Penny Wong, do you think there’s time [to evacuate local staff from Afghanistan]?

WONG: Once again, I think there has been an abject failure of responsibility by Mr Morrison. Veterans, former prime ministers, including John Howard and Kevin Rudd, Labor, and the Afghan community have been calling for months for the Government to act to ensure those who helped Australia, and their families, can get to safety. Other countries have been evacuating Afghan supporters for weeks. And yet, we are at a situation where we have failed to ensure that all those who assisted us have been brought to safety. I hope the mission that the Prime Minister has spoken about this morning, in news today, is successful. But I do think this has been a failure of ethical responsibility, but also of national security responsibility because we cannot send the message to the rest of the world, that when Australians come, they will abandon you. We will not be helped on operations, on missions, on deployments, if that's the message that is sent.

BEVAN: The Prime Minister said today that no Australian soldier ever dies in vain. Do you agree?

WONG: Every soldier who serves us, serves with distinction. And every soldier is sent because their leaders make a decision that they need to serve in the national interest. This is a heartbreaking day. It's a heartbreaking day for Afghanistan. It's a heartbreaking day for the Australian-Afghan community and it is a heartbreaking day for the veterans of a two-decade long campaign and the families of veterans. I'd also say this is a heartbreaking day for the women and girls of Afghanistan who will now bear the brunt of a brutal, repressive and cruel regime.

CLARKE: Shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs, Penny Wong, thank you.

Authorised by Paul Erickson, ALP, Canberra.