Speeches

Speeches Chris has made in the Australian Federal Parliament.

Constituency Statements - Afghanistan

October 21, 2021

Mr HAYES (Fowler—Chief Opposition Whip) (10:53): Over the past few months, the situation in Kabul and across Afghanistan has been deteriorating rapidly. While the Taliban promised stability and security, what we've seen is the dismantling of our efforts over a 20-year fight against terrorism. Our support for freedom and democracy and a better future for all Afghans, particularly women and children. Our priority must be to ensure the safe departure of visa holders and the resettlement of those Afghans who have supported Australian and allied forces' efforts in the conflict. This is not only a moral obligation but a legal obligation in terms of adhering to the various human rights commitments that we have in international law.

Following the resurgence of the Taliban, I was contacted by Brad Parker, CEO of MATES in Construction, on behalf of a constituent regarding the Salehi family, whose father and brother provided support to the allied forces throughout the Afghan conflict. The situation was grave for this family, following a formal directive from the Taliban ordering their deaths—not only of the two men but of their families. Fortunately, the family were granted a humanitarian 449 visa and has now arrived safely in Australia. This would not have been possible without the efforts of Minister Alex Hawke and his staff. I'll mention particularly Ross MacDonald, and Grace Le in my office. As a matter of urgency, we all convened in Parliament House at 11 pm one night to help secure visas for this family.

I also acknowledge the ongoing efforts from the minister's office to arrange flights to Australia for this family. As it turned out, this was particularly challenging given the issues at Kabul airport, as well as the fact that this family was caught in the middle of the ISIS bombing that occurred. Luckily, the Salehi family were able to cross the border into Pakistan and flew to Australia on a military flight from Islamabad. Sadly, however, this is only one of many cases, but it nevertheless highlights the real need of pressing the case for these individuals who are facing such dire situations in Afghanistan.

While we welcome the government's announcement of 3,000 extra places for Afghans' settlement, we can do more and we must do more. We owe it to the Australian Afghan community and to our military veterans who fought on our behalf to restore hope for these people who are suffering under the harsh and radical leadership of the Taliban.

WE'LL PUT PEOPLE FIRST