Afghanistan Troops Welcomed Home In Darwin

Australian troops who served in Afghanistan have been welcomed home at a ceremony in Darwin attended by the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition.

Shorten

In addition to speeches from Tony Abbott and Bill Shorten, the troops were addressed by the Northern Territory Chief Minister, Adam Giles, and the Chief of Army, Lieutenant General David Morrison.

Abbott said Australia’s commitment to Afghanistan had ended “not with victory, not with defeat, but with hope that Afghanistan will be a better country for our presence”.

He said: “We salute all the men and women who have served in a far country for a good cause. We mourn the 40 who did not return. We grieve with the more than 250 with serious injuries and we acknowledge the unseen wounds of thousands. You have done things that no-one should have to do.” [Read more…]


Majority Of Australian Troops In Afghanistan On Their Way Home

The majority of Australian Defence Force personnel in Uruzgan province, Afghanistan, are on their way home, the government announced today.

Johnston

Prime Minister Tony Abbott and Defence Minister Senator David Johnston held a joint press conference today to mark the departure. They said around 400 Defence personnel remain to advise and train the Afghan National Security Forces.

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten also paid tribute to the Australian troops: “A grateful nation should thank our service people. There’s been in excess of 20,000 Australian service people who’ve represented Australia’s interests bringing peace to Afghanistan. Tragically some 40 will never come home, and also 250 plus have received significant injuries. Our thoughts should be with them this Christmas.”

  • Listen to Abbott and Johnston (13m)

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  • Listen to Shorten (2m)

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Text of media release from the Minister for Defence, Senator David Johnston

Afghanistan

Australian Defence Force completes mission in Uruzgan

The Australian Defence Force mission in Uruzgan has concluded and the majority of our people are on their way home. [Read more…]


Gillard Releases National Security Strategy

Prime Minister Julia Gillard has released the government’s National Security Strategy.

The Security Strategy document appears at the end of this page.

In a speech at the Australian National University, Gillard said the strategy “highlights the dramatic economic and strategic shift towards the Asia-Pacific region and provides a blueprint for national security over the next decade”.

Gillard

  • Listen to former Foreign Minister Gareth Evans introduce Gillard (5m)

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  • Listen to Gillard’s speech

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Gillard said, “we are transitioning from one decade, the decade of 9/11, to a post 9/11 era where some risks and challenges endure and others are evolving rapidly.”

The National Security document says the key national security risks faced by Australia are:

  • Espionage and foreign interference
  • Instability in developing and fragile states
  • Malicious cyber activity
  • Proliferation of weapons of mass destruction
  • Serious and organised crime
  • State-based conflict or coercion significantly affecting Australia’s industries
  • Terrorism and violent extremism

Media release from Prime Minister Julia Gillard.

A Strategy for Australia’s National Security

Australia’s first National Security Strategy highlights the dramatic economic and strategic shift towards the Asia-Pacific region and provides a blueprint for national security over the next decade.

Complementing the Australia in the Asian Century White Paper, the National Security Strategy will ensure Australia takes advantage of the opportunities of the Asian Century whilst focussing national security efforts on the risks and challenges that come with change in the region. [Read more…]


Five Australian Soldiers Killed In Afghanistan

Three Australian soldiers have been killed by a rogue Afghan soldier in Afghanistan and two members of the SAS have died in a Black Hawk helicopter crash.

Details of the incidents have been announced by the Acting Chief of the ADF, Air Marshal Mark Binskin. The Governor-General, Quentin Bryce, has described this as “the darkest of days for Australia”.

Mark Binskin

The “green-on-blue” incident occurred at a base in southern Oruzgan province yesterday. Two other soldiers were injured in the attack. [Read more…]


Gillard: Afghanistan Troops Will Be Brought Home During 2013-14

Prime Minister Julia Gillard has indicated an exit strategy for Australian troops in Afghanistan which could see most of them brought home during 2013-14.

Julia GillardIn a speech to the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI), Gillard said a summit in Chicago next month would see progress on a withdrawal timetable.

“It’s likely that by the middle of next year, mid-2013, the fifth and final tranche of districts and provinces will have commenced transition,” she said.

Gillard continued to assert that the Afghanistan mission is in Australia’s national interest. She claimed “transition” is already happening. [Read more…]


Stephen Smith and Jason Clare: Defence Press Conference

Defence Minister Stephen Smith and Defence Materiel Minister Jason Clare held a joint press conference today to outline defence procurement plans.

  • Listen to the press conference (36m)

Transcript of Stephen Smith and Jason Clare press conference.

STEPHEN SMITH:

I’m very pleased to be here with Jason Clare, the Minister for Defence Materiel. We have a range of announcements today but before I deal with those joint announcements can I just make some general remarks? We always knew that this year would be a big year for Defence particularly in terms of procurement and capability and reform in those areas but it’s already been a big year for Defence with the work that Australian Defence Force personnel have been doing, assisting in the floods in Queensland and Victoria. Can I again compliment the good work of our Defence personnel. [Read more…]


Day 6: Little Actions Vibrate

Gillard and Abbott both “suspended” election campaign activities on Day 6 in order to attend the funeral of Private Nathan Bewes, the latest Australian soldier to be killed in Afghanistan.

It is to risk accusations of disrespect and poor taste to claim that, in fact, their decision was the only significant election campaign activity yesterday. It was a decision as calculated as any other to maximise the call to “values”. It was a decision which highlighted the almost total lack of debate about Australia’s involvement in the nearly nine-year-old war.

Dare it be said that what these young men who have given their lives in service of government policy deserve is a democracy that takes seriously its commitment to a Parliament of Representatives?

Dare it be said that this was never more so than in the midst of an election campaign?

***

I was running late for the GetUp! function organised by Sue Barrett and her German-born husband, Jobst. The meeting room in their company’s premises in South Caulfield contained seven men and nine women, half of them in their 20s, the rest tending middle-aged. [Read more…]