Member for Throsby Stephen Jones spoke in Parliament today in support of the Government’s decision to provide humanitarian assistance to the people of Iraq.
In a statement to the House, Mr Jones said that news of another US journalist murdered in the civil war in Iraq was tragic but should not draw focus from the wide-spread human rights abuses of thousands of Iraqi people at the hands of Isis.
“It’s understandable that citizens of Western countries tune in to an atrocity when it touches one of their own, but this should not overshadow more than 5,000 Iraqis who have been slaughtered, or the 12,000 who have been wounded, enslaved and abused at the hands of murderers, masquerading as a cause”, said Jones.
“As a wealthy nation, I don’t believe Australia has the luxury of saying ‘this is somebody else’s problem, happening somewhere else’.”
Jones argued against the notion that this should be subject to a Parliamentary vote.
“It’s proper that decisions to intervene in foreign conflicts are ultimately made by the Government.
“They have the information and intelligence at their fingertips and are ultimately responsible for the consequences of their actions but that does not mean Parliament cannot play a role.
“Opposition Leader Bill Shorten has rightly committed Labor’s support to the Government’s actions in Iraq.”
Jones argued that our support for the people of Iraq was consistent with Left values and the history of Labor in Government.
“Today it was reported that the Foreign Minister said support was in the face of “gritted teeth” from Labor’s Left.
“If these comments are true, they are both unfortunate and ill-informed”, said Jones.
“It may suit the political objectives of one side of politics or another to pick a fight on the issue but it is not in the long term interest of informed public debate and certainly not in the public interest.
“This is not an issue of Right versus Left. It is about right versus wrong.
“It was Labor’s John Curtin who established the alliance with the US and while we don’t follow the US blindly, it serves us well.
“I have never felt more strongly about the importance to confront the barbary of ISIS and for Australia to play its part in that.
“It’s not good enough for us as Parliamentarians to say we will give speeches and money, while those in Iraq give their lives and their blood.
“We are better than that as a Parliament. We are better than that as a people.
“I wholeheartedly support the actions of this Government.”