Stephen Smith MP
Minister for Defence
Australia commitment in Afghanistan
The very clear rationale for Australia’s involvement in Afghanistan is that it is in our national interest to be so involved. It is in our national interest to support a United Nations mandated International Security Assistance Force—a coalition of 47 countries mandated by the United Nations. That coalition, including our Alliance partner the United States, seeks to stare down international terrorism. These issues will no doubt be very broadly and widely debated by Parliament in the days ahead.
Let me come precisely to the question that the Member has raised in respect of the Karzai Government.
As Members of the House might recall, both before and after the recent Presidential election which saw President Karzai re-elected, I said very clearly on a number of occasions that Australia, the Australian Government, the International Security Assistance Force and the international community expected to see considerable and substantive improvement from whatever Afghan Government emerged from that Presidential election process.
Whether it was a re-elected Karzai Government or some other government we expected to see substantial improvement on corruption, on governance and on human rights issues, in particular the treatment of women and girls, and especially when it came to matters like education.
I said that on behalf of the Australian Government and on behalf of Australia, both domestically and internationally. I said that before President Karzai faced the election and after his re-election. The position of Australia and the position of the Australian government has not changed one iota in that respect.
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