News / Middle East

Australian Parliament Debates Afghan War For First Time

Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard, center, meets Corporal Craig Turnball and his Explosive Detection Dog during her visit at Multinational Base Tarin Kot in southern Afghanistan, 02 Oct. 2010
Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard, center, meets Corporal Craig Turnball and his Explosive Detection Dog during her visit at Multinational Base Tarin Kot in southern Afghanistan, 02 Oct. 2010

Multimedia

Audio
Phil Mercer

The Australian government's arguments for sending its forces into Afghanistan have been challenged in the country's first parliamentary debate on the conflict. Dissenting members of parliament accuse ministers of failing to explain to the public why Australian troops are fighting and dying in what some critics describe as an "unwinnable war."

Most members of parliament support the deployment of Australian troops in Afghanistan. But independent member Andrew Wilkie says his colleagues' support for the war is eroding democracy in Australia because they are not representing the views of voters.

Several opinion polls suggest Australia's role in Afghanistan is not popular in the country.

Greens member Adam Bandt said in a parliamentary debate in Canberra that the troops should be brought home immediately.

"It is also now clear the main reason we are there is not to defend democracy or human rights but simply because the United States has asked us to go and wants us to remain," Bandt said. "And it is now clear that although our alliance with the United States is important, a simple request is not good enough reason for our troops to fight and die in an unwinnable and unjustifiable war."

The Australian government says it will not abandon Afghanistan to militants and chaos. Defense Minister Stephen Smith says that insurgents must not be allowed to win.

"We have a responsibility to Afghanistan and to our allies and partners to remain committed," Smith said. "We have a responsibility to the fallen to continue the task but most importantly we have a responsibility to the Australian people to ensure that we protect Australia's national interest and that is what we are doing in Afghanistan – Australia and Australians should expect no less of us."

This is the first time Australia's parliament has officially debated the conflict in Afghanistan. It was one of the conditions demanded by Green members in return for their support of Labor's minority government.

The three-day debate concluded Thursday. Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd says the Afghanistan mission, combined with intelligence operations, has prevented a large number of terrorist attacks across the world.

Earlier this week, Prime Minister Julia Gillard said some Australian troops and advisers were likely to be in Afghanistan for the next decade.

Australia has 1,550 military personnel in the troubled country. Since 2001, 21 of its soldiers have died in the conflict.

You May Like

Reports of Mass Murder on Mediterranean Smuggler’s Boat

Boat sailed from Libya with 750 migrants aboard and arrived in Italy with 569 More

Video New Thailand Hotline Targets Misbehaving Monks

Officials say move aims to restore country’s image of Buddhism, tarnished by recent high profile scandals such as opulent lifestyle, drug and alcohol abuse, as well as child sex abuse More

Study: Dust from Sahara Helped Form Bahama Islands

What does the Sahara have in common with a Caribbean island? Quite a lot, researchers say More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Astronauts Train in Underwater Labi
X
George Putic
July 25, 2014 7:25 PM
In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Not Even Monks Spared From Thailand’s Junta-Backed Morality Push

With Thailand’s military government firmly in control after May’s bloodless coup, authorities are carrying out plans they say are aimed at restoring discipline, morality and patriotism to all Thais. The measures include a crackdown on illegal gambling, education reforms to promote students’ moral development, and a new 24-hour phone hotline for citizens to report misbehaving monks. Steve Sandford reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Virtual Program Teaches Farming Skills

In a fast-changing world beset by unpredictable climate conditions, farmers cannot afford to ignore new technology. Researchers in Australia are developing an online virtual world program to share information about climate change and more sustainable farming techniques for sugar cane growers. As VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports, the idea is to create a wider support network for farmers.
Video

Video Airline Expert: Missile will Show Signature on Debris

The debris field from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 is spread over a 21-kilometer radius in eastern Ukraine. It is expected to take investigators months to sort through the airplane pieces to learn about the missile that brought down the jetliner and who fired it. VOAs Carolyn Presutti explains how this work will be done.
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

AppleAndroid