I rise tonight to argue the case very strongly that Australia should withdraw its troops from Afghanistan as quickly and as safely as possible. Like everyone in this country, I watched the television coverage of the funeral of Lance Corporal MacKinney, who died in Afghanistan on active duty and was buried on 12 September 2010. He was the father of Annabell, and his son Noah was born on the day of his funeral. Noah will never see his father and he will grow up knowing that his father was the 21st Australian soldier killed in Afghanistan.
Senator SIEWERT (Western Australia) (9.08pm)—I rise to take part in a debate that should have happened 10 years ago—or nine years ago as we are in our 10th year of this conflict. It is good to see that the parliament is finally debating the merits of our military involvement in Afghanistan. While I welcome this opportunity and I am glad it has finally come, this highlights a problem in Australia in that, as I said, we are now in our 10th year of conflict and this is the first year time the parliament has discussed it in terms of debating it.
Towards the end of last year, the Karzai government passed a law which applies to the country’s minority Shi’ite population, and in particular its women. The law allows police to enforce language that sets out a wife's sexual duties and restricts a woman’s right leave her own home. According to US reports, child custody rights still go to fathers and grandfathers, women have to ask before they get married for permission to work and a husband is still able to deny his wife food and shelter if she does not meet his sexual needs.
As the long awaited debate on Australia's involvement in the Afghanistan invasion opened in federal parliament, a group of war veterans made their way to Capital Hill to have their voices heard.
The national association of veterans and former military personnel, known as Stand Fast, is demanding an end to the nine-year Afghan War, urging politicians to recognise the hidden casualties and long term cost of the war.