Labor notes the decision of the Government to temporarily close Australia’s embassy in Afghanistan as a result of the deteriorating security situation.
The Morrison Government must outline the factors that led to this decision and whether it considered alternative options to manage the changing security environment, including co-locating a diplomatic presence with like-minded countries.
The Prime Minister said on 15 April that Australia will continue to support the stability and development of Afghanistan through our bilateral partnership, ‘including our diplomatic presence, development cooperation program, and continued people-to-people links’ and that Australia remained committed to helping Afghanistan preserve the gains of the past 20 years, particularly for women and girls.
The Morrison Government should explain how it will now meet these commitments.
We are also disappointed that after 20 years of successive Australian military, diplomatic and development engagement in Afghanistan, there was no bipartisan consultation on this important decision.
This will have a direct negative impact on Australia’s ability to deliver and monitor our ongoing development partnership with Afghanistan.
The Morrison Government must also ensure swift visa pathways for Afghan interpreters and local staff that have been vital to Australian Government operations in Afghanistan. Australia has a duty of care to these staff – who in many cases wore Australian uniforms and helped keep our troops safe, at great risk to themselves.