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.

The helicopter crash occurred during an “insertion” in Helmand province. The aircraft rolled over on landing.

  • Listen to Air Marshal Binskin (16m)

    Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

About 1500 Australian Defence Force troops are in Afghanistan as part of the International Security Assistance Force. The casualties announced today bring Australia’s death toll to 38. Seven soldiers have now been killed in green-on-blue incidents.

Prime Minister Julia Gillard has announced that she has “made the judgement call” to come home early from the Pacific Islands forum in the Cook Islands. She said this is the nation’s worst day in Afghanistan and the worst loss of life since Vietnam.

Julia Gillard

Gillard insisted that the commitment in Afghanistan has a purpose and that “progress is being made”. She said: “We cannot allow even the most grievous of circumstances to alter our strategy… We went there for a purpose and we will see that purpose through.”

  • Listen to Prime Minister Gillard (11m)

    Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

  • Watch Gillard:

Statement released by Department of Defence.

Three Australian soldiers killed, two wounded in insider attack

Three Australian soldiers have been killed and two wounded following an insider attack at Patrol Base Wahab in the Baluchi Valley region of Uruzgan.

The attack occurred during the evening of 29 August, 2012 (Afghan time) inside the confines of the Patrol Base. [Read more…]

Rudd: Global Challenges, Global Responses And Global Governance

Kevin Rudd has addressed the Canadian Department of Foreign Affairs.

The former Prime Minister and Foreign Minister spoke on “Global Challenges, Global Responses and Global Governance”.

Transcript of Kevin Rudd’s Address to the Canadian Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade.

My good friend Canadian Foreign Minister John Baird.

Distinguished members of the Canadian Government.

Distinguished members of the Diplomatic Corps.

Distinguished representatives of the Canadian Foreign Service.

Merci beaucoup tout le monde.

Merci pour cette aimable présentation.

Je veux vous remercier également de me recevoir ici aujourd’hui au Ministère des Affaires étrangères et du Commerce international. [Read more…]

Tony Abbott’s China Speech: Working Harder On A Complex Relationship

The Leader of the Opposition, Tony Abbott has delivered a keynote foreign policy address on the China relationship.

Speaking in China, Abbott said: “It will take time and much further evolution for our friendship with China to approach the warmth that we take for granted with America. But it is worth the effort and it must be made.”

Of Australia’s developing relationship with China, compared to more established relations with Japan and the United States, Abbott said: “Prime Minister John Howard understood that you could make a new friend without losing an old one.”

Abbott advocated political and legal reforms in China: “In the long term, China should prosper even more if its people enjoyed freedom under the law and the right to choose a government, despite the difficulty of managing this transition in a country with a tumultuous history.”

Abbott addresssed AustCham Beijing, the China-Australia Chamber of Commerce.

Text of Tony Abbott’s address to AustCham Beijing, China.

WORKING HARDER ON A COMPLEX RELATIONSHIP

In just over 30 years, hundreds of millions of Chinese have entered the middle class acquiring TVs, motor cars, extensive wardrobes, and air-conditioned homes.

They have become better educated, more thoroughly informed and more widely travelled.

For the first time since 1949, Chinese people can more-or-less decide how they work and where they live, even outside the country, although they still can’t choose their government.

It’s been a great watershed in human development as well as one of the most remarkable economic transformations in human history. [Read more…]

Malcolm Fraser’s Whitlam Oration

Former Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser has delivered the 2012 Whitlam Oration to the Whitlam Institute in Sydney.

Malcolm Fraser

Nearly thirty-seven years after the Fraser-led coalition parties blocked the Budget and Sir John Kerr dismissed the Whitlam government, Fraser remarked that in the 1970s “few people would have believed that Malcolm Fraser would be delivering a Gough Whitlam oration”.

Fraser, 82, spoke mainly about foreign policy and international politics, and issues concerning race, immigration and refugees.

Gough Whitlam was not in attendance but a video message from him was shown:

  • Listen to Malcolm Fraser’s speech (51m)

    Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

  • Listen to Gough Whitlam on Fraser and multiculturalism

    Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

  • Listen to Senator John Faulkner comment on Whitlam and Fraser

    Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Text of The Whitlam Oration given by Malcolm Fraser.

“Politics, Independence and the National Interest: the legacy of power and how to achieve a peaceful Western Pacific”

I am honoured to be asked to make this speech. During the turbulent years of the 1970’s, few people would have believed that Malcolm Fraser would be delivering a Gough Whitlam Oration. Politics is a hard business. The opposition of one party to another can become toxic. We have had this demonstrated to us all too often in recent years. But it does not always have to be this way.

By any standards Gough Whitlam is a formidable, political warrior. He has inspired an undying loyalty amongst his supporters. He is an historic figure who has made a significant impact on the life of Australia. He had grand ideas, many of which left their mark on Australia. A number of which were embraced by the following government. Others have survived despite the opposition from the other side of politics.

He was the first Australian Prime Minister to recognise China. As Australian Prime Minister he had the confidence and knowledge to recognise the distinct national interests of our country. He established ground breaking enquiries into Land Rights for Aboriginal Australians and also over a number of environmental issues, where reports were later implemented by my government.

As political antagonists we had substantial differences, but as Australians we had shared interests and concerns. [Read more…]

Government Expels Syrian Diplomats

The Syrian Chargé d’affaires, Mr Jawdat Ali, has been given 72 hours to leave Australia.

The decision was announced at 4.30pm today by the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Senator Bob Carr. One other Syrian diplomat has also been expelled.

The expulsion is in response to the massacre of 100 people in Haoula.

  • Listen to Senator Carr:

    Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Statement from the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Senator Bob Carr.

Expulsion of Syrian Chargé d’Affaires

Syrian Chargé d’Affaires, Mr Jawdat Ali was this afternoon notified of the Minister’s decision to expel him from Australia in response to the massacre of more than 100 civilians in the village of Haoula.

Minister for Foreign Affairs, Senator Bob Carr said Mr Ali was advised at 4.30pm today that he and one other diplomat from the Syrian Embassy were required to depart the country within 72 hours.

“The Syrian Government can expect no further official engagement with Australia until it abides by the UN ceasefire and takes active steps to implement the peace plan agreed with Joint Special Envoy Kofi Annan,” Senator Carr said.

“This massacre of more than 100 men, women and children in Haoula was a hideous and brutal crime.

“The Syrian Chargé has again been advised to convey a clear message to Damascus that Australians are appalled by this massacre and we will pursue a unified international response to hold those responsible to account.”

Senator Carr said an international response could include referrals to the International Criminal Court and imposing UN sanctions such as an arms embargo as well as financial and travel restrictions on identified individuals and entities.

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.

Gillard said: “This is the vital business of the Chicago summit in May. To review our progress in transition – to map out how we intend to complete the handover of security responsibility to the Afghan Government. To ensure sustainment – to build the international commitment necessary to fund, train and support the Afghan National Security Forces after transition is complete. And to highlight our long-term support – to recommit to and define our continued contribution in the years after 2014.

“Today, around half of the population lives in areas where the Afghan National Security Forces have begun taking lead security responsibility. The next stage of transition – tranche three – will be announced soon. And 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.”

  • Listen to Julia Gillard’s ASPI speech (31m)

    Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

  • Listen to Gillard’s responses to questions (15m)

    Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Transcript of Julia Gillard’s speech to ASPI

Some of you here will remember that the Council of the Australian Strategic Policy Institute met for the first time in late winter 2001 – less than a fortnight before the September 11 attacks on the United States.

One thing that did not change after September 11 was Australia’s need for the work of an Institute such as this. [Read more…]

Kevin Rudd: Building An Asia-Literate Australia

Queensland Labor backbencher Kevin Rudd says Australia is failing to do enough to become China-literate and Asia-literate in the 21st century.

Kevin RuddLaunching a paper, “Finding a Place on the Asia Stage”, by Carillo Gantner and Allison Carol, at the University of Melbourne’s ASIALINK centre, Rudd said there has been a decline in the teaching of the four principal languages of Asia: Chinese, Japanese, Indonesian and Korean.

As “an outpost of the Occidental world”, Rudd said Australia needs to “do more work in understanding the minds..of Asia”. Despite a belief that English is now the universal language, Rudd said the truth is “the bulk of the intellectual discourse, political and policy debate as well as economic exchange within Asia occurs in languages other than English.”

Rudd posed the question: “How much is literally being ‘lost in translation’ in straightforward transactions between individuals, corporations and governments, not to mention the media, everyday around China, Asia and the world.” [Read more…]

Hillary Clinton On China

United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has delivered an important speech on China which appears to depart from the line previously taken by the Obama Administration.

Addressing the US Institute of Peace China Conference to celebrate the 40th anniversary of President Nixon’s visit to China, Clinton seemed to call for another “Nixon moment”. [Read more…]

Bob Carr Enters The Senate And Becomes Foreign Minister

Bob CarPrime Minister Julia Gillard has announced that former NSW Premier Bob Carr is to enter the Senate and become Foreign Minister.

After several days of uncertainty and denials, the announcement came as a surprise today when Gillard announced the ministerial reshuffle arising from the resignation of Kevin Rudd and his failed leadership challenge.

Carr will fill the casual Senate vacancy created by the resignation of Mark Arbib. [Read more…]

Gillard Announces Free QANTAS Evacuation Flight From Cairo

Prime Minister Julia Gillard has announced that the Australian government will provide a free QANTAS evacuation flight on Wednesday for Australians in Egypt.

The government will charter a 747 to evacuate Australians wishing to leave Egypt. Gillard said Australians were not advised to cancel commercial bookings because the Cairo airport is open and commercial flights are leaving. However, no Australian would be denied a seat on the chartered flight. The plane will fly to Frankfurt or London.

Australians in Egypt can call the Australian embassy in Cairo on 202 2575 0444. The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) number from outside Australia is 61 2 6261 3305. Calls from within Australia should use 02 6261 3305.

  • Listen to Gillard’s press conference. (17m)

    Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.