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Greens call for genuine strength in Syrian response

Media Release
Scott Ludlam 7 Sep 2015

The Australian Greens have today called on the Abbott Government not to mistake the use of force with showing genuine strength when it comes to helping the four million people fleeing Syria.

“Four million people are fleeing war in Syria at a time when there are record numbers of displaced people around the world. We are strong enough to give a home to 20,000 extra refugees without trading one vulnerable fleeing family for another,” said Australian Greens Leader, Dr Richard Di Natale.

“Tony Abbott wants you to believe that dropping bombs on Syria would be a heroic demonstration of strength, while he has always pretended that accepting refugees is a sign of weakness. We show real strength when we offer protection to those fleeing from Syria’s nightmare, and when we use our diplomatic offices to help support the tentative efforts towards local and regional ceasefires that have emerged in recent months.

“Tony Abbott can't be trusted to act in the national interest rather than his own self-interest which is why Australia’s military deployment into other countries must be a decision of the parliament.

“Bombing Syria will not make Syrians safer. It will not make Australia safer. It will fuel extremist hate and lay ground for terrorists to thrive.

“Tony Abbott has already said Australia won’t be taking a single refugee more than it had already planned. Trading in the lives of refugees to give the appearance of actions is not strength, it’s not leadership, it’s cynical political manoeuvring.

“I’m pleased to see Labor recognise that stepping up and offering protection to more people is the right thing to do, it’s just a shame they are only committed to accepting half of the 20,000 people called for by the Greens, Amnesty International, the Refugee Council of Australia and others,” said Senator Di Natale.

“To welcome 20,000 people into our community on top of our normal humanitarian intake and give $150 million in support to the UNHCR would be a strong response from Australia,” said Greens immigration spokesperson Senator Sarah Hanson-Young.

“Tony Abbott has sent his Immigration Minister to Geneva to meet the UN with instructions not to accept one extra refugee, not one. That's not being generous and it shows little concern for the level of this crisis.

“I’ve been to the Syrian refugee camps in Jordan and Lebanon, and have helped rescue people in the Mediterranean. Europe doesn’t need a visit from Peter Dutton, it needs us to take more refugees,” said Senator Hanson-Young.

“Islamic State is just one of the violent players in Syria. In attacking them, we would bolster others, and achieve nothing for Syrian civilians,” said Australian Greens spokesperson on foreign affairs, Senator Scott Ludlam.

“These decisions are being made without a vote in the Parliament, without acknowledging Australia’s complicity in the disastrous security situation in the Middle East, and against a backdrop of deep misgivings within Australia’s defence and foreign policy community.

“If Tony Abbott was serious about ending the atrocities unfolding in Iraq and Syria, he’d be joining or leading international efforts to stem the flow of fighters, weapons and money, and supporting civil society movements and regional diplomatic efforts to bring the conflict in Syria to a close.”

This newest instalment of mission creep shows how carelessly Tony Abbott is prepared to degrade Australia’s international reputation in desperate pursuit of a domestic audience that is no longer listening,” Senator Ludlam concluded.

Media Contact: Andrew Blyberg 0457 901 600

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