03 March 2016

Danby calls for a debate on Australia's Iran policies

Member for Melbourne Ports Michael Danby published an ad in Friday's Australian Financial Review challenging the foreign minister to debate her Iran policy. 
 
Mr Danby said, “There are many questions as to Australia's ever closer ties to the murderous Iranian regime that Ms Bishop has refused to answer.”
 
In January, Ms Bishop suspended sanctions against Iran without public consultation, without parliamentary debate and apparently without any sort of checks that her actions would allow Australians to unwittingly aid and abet Iranian and allied terrorist actions in Syria, Lebanon, Yemen and Iraq. 
 
On the last four Mondays of the 2015 Parliamentary yearthe Opposition called for the Government to have a Parliamentary debate on Iran and the wider Middle East.
 
Surely the substantial step of suspending sanctions against this murderous regime warranted such an investigation?
 
Mr Danby listed the following issues he would like Ms Bishop to answer in a parliamentary debate: 
 
• Her announcement in April last year—that is, before the nuclear deal was even signed, much less implemented—that she was negotiating an intelligence sharing arrangement with Iran.
• Why she chose not to denounce Iranian ballistic missile testing even though she condemned similar tests by North Korea. The Iranian tests on 10 October and 17 December last year were in contravention of UN Security Council Resolution 1929. The US protested the tests and slapped sanctions on Iran as a result.
• Her statement from June last year that Iranian and Russian involvement in Syria should be seen as a positive, given that they, along with Hezbollah and Syrian forces are now besieging and shelling 300,000 civilians in Aleppo.
• Why last year she floated the idea of Iranian consulates in Sydney and Melbourne, given that Iran has used its diplomatic presence in other countries—notably Argentina and Thailand—to organise terrorist attacks against Jewish and Israeli targets.
• Why she said she would consult with Iran ahead of Australia bombing Da’esh targets in Syria, given that Iran is part of the problem in Syria, not part of the solution.
• Her apparent turnaround from three years ago, when she demanded that a relatively low-level Australian official not visit Iran and said, “In addition to concerns about its nuclear program, Iran’s leaders continue to make bellicose statements with regard to Israel and the regime has been an active sponsor of terrorist organisations around the world.”
• The apparent lack of scrutiny that has gone into the 144 entities from which she removed designation in January, which would reassure the Australian public that they have no institutional link to the proscribed Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.
• Absence of Parliamentary scrutiny means we don’t know whether any of the suspended sanctions involve dual-use technology that might have military applications.
 
Mr Danby said, “I believe that the reason Ms Bishop has refused to defend her Iran policies speaks to a certain shame in her actions. Certainly members of the Coalition have expressed to me in private their discomfort about her infatuation with Iran.” 
 
“I believe her back-door method of suspending the sanctions was dishonest and cowardly”, Mr Danby said. “She participated in Parliamentary debates when Australia applied sanctions but now wants to sneak past the Parliament dropping off those very sanctions.
 
Any misguided belief that Ms Bishop had that Iran might moderate after signing the nuclear deal has already been proven grossly inaccurate.
 
Since the deal has been signed, Iran has funnelled extra troops into Syria – it and Russia, with their Syrian and Hezbollah mates are now besieging and pounding Aleppo, killing indiscriminately and preparing for the next wave of refugees to flood into Turkey and beyond.
 
Since the deal has been signed, Iran has boasted of its military ability to influence all corners of the Middle East. 
 
It was even reported yesterday that the bounty on author Salman Rushdie’s head had been renewed.