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Syrian air strikes: PM Abbott throws Australia onto the wrong side of history

The Australian Greens have condemned the Abbott Government's decision to commence airstrikes in Syria, warning it will worsen the refugee crisis and aggravate extremism.

"At a time when our community is desperate to show compassion to people fleeing war in Syria, Tony Abbott is dropping bombs," said Greens Leader Richard Di Natale.

"I'm so proud of the way Australians have told the government loud and clear that we are strong enough to offer protection to people seeking refuge from war.

"This intake of 12,000 refugees is welcome, and would not be happening if not for the determination of the Australian public.

"There is no legal basis for air strikes in Syria and there is no clear strategy. This should be a decision for the Parliament, not a besieged prime minister desperate to save his political hide.

"If the Iraq War showed us anything it's that we risk making a bad problem worse. We must learn the lessons of the past, or we're condemned to repeat them."

Greens Deputy Leader and foreign affairs spokesperson Senator Scott Ludlam said:

"The Syrian civil war is a complex mix of local sectarian violence and regional power dynamics, with the Syrian people paying a horrific price over the last four years.

"If Tony Abbott were serious about ending the atrocities unfolding in Iraq and Syria, he'd be joining international efforts to stem the flow of fighters, weapons and money, and leading regional diplomatic efforts to bring the conflict in Syria to a close.

"This work is complex and slow, and it provides fewer testosterone-fuelled opportunities for posing in front of flags, but the very last thing the Syrian civil war needs is yet another foreign combatant.

"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."

Greens immigration spokesperson Senator Sarah Hanson-Young said:

"The Australian people have been urging Tony Abbott to take in 20,000 or more Syrian refugees. Today's decision from the Prime Minister is a result of that remarkable community crusade and those calls will continue until Australia is doing its fair share.

"Today's decision to take more refugees is definitely a step in the right direction and shows that Australia has the capacity to do more.

"The UNHCR needs all of the help that it can get with resettlement and funding. Australia could easily commit $150 million to help support Syrian refugees and should do so immediately."


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