Monday, 06 March 2023

Mr HAWKE (Mitchell) (13:07): One year on from the illegal invasion of Ukraine, the toll on the world stands very, very high. It's appropriate that this parliament mark solemnly the deaths of 7,000 people that we know of, the displacement of 14 million people in Ukraine and a world torn apart by the consequences of Vladimir Putin's illegal invasion of Ukraine. Australia, of course, as a nation dedicated to individual freedoms, human rights and individual rights, stands very firmly with our allies in Europe and around the world to stand up for Ukraine, the citizens that are fighting this war and the people that have banded together to stand up to this great evil. It's a situation that we've seen on repeat in recent years, and there's an investment that we have made as a country far away, on the other side of the world, in a people who are fighting for their liberty and fighting for their basic individual and human rights.

Vladimir Putin, in recent times, has been responsible for atrocities around the world. Whether it started in Chechnya, in Syria, in Georgia, in Ossetia, in Crimea or, now, in Ukraine, the pattern is clear. The tyrant that is Vladimir Putin has publicly stated that he intends to re-establish the Soviet empire, an empire that was responsible for the deaths of 60 million people. He seems to think that that is a worthy objective, and he has certainly made a good fist of it with that horrible list of atrocities through all of those countries, and his wrecking ball that he is now applying to Europe and to the world.

So it's only right that Australia is sending our military aid. There's $655 million in total aid, but $475 million in military assistance—with of course our humanitarian aid and compassion—to aid the Ukraine people in their defence. It has allowed Ukraine to recapture 54 per cent of the territory that Russia initially seized. Given the awful surprise attack and the overwhelming odds against the Ukrainian people, this is a stunning achievement, but it's been bought at the cost of the lives of several thousand people already and 14 million people without a home.

At the beginning of this conflict we welcomed here people from Ukraine, and we continue to welcome those who need safe harbour, who need temporary protection and who need to flee. Of course, people who have come from Ukraine want to return to a safe and secure country that is protected from Russia, so we continue to support the effort—the war that is being waged—on behalf of free peoples all around the world.

I commend very much our partners in Europe for the leadership they've shown. In recent times, Europe has faced economic strife, social strife and a refugee crisis that is the greatest displacement of people that we've seen in Europe since World War II. At every turn, Vladimir Putin has sought not to be a good partner or friend to the countries of Europe but to take advantage of each of these crises, whether it be through economic unrest, with his unconscionable actions in cutting off power and controlling the power supply through the gas to Europe; whether it be through his deliberate manipulation of refugees and the greatest refugee crisis since World War II in Europe; or whether it be through his illegal invasions and activities in countries in the Middle East and throughout Europe. When we think about our partners and friends in this regard—the countries of Poland, Lithuania, Romania and Hungary—we remember that migrants from these great countries came to Australia after World War II, fleeing a great evil in Europe, and established homes here and built communities. Many of us are here because of that great evil. Many Ukrainians will come here again, and we welcome them.

One year on, we must not give up on the people of Ukraine or the nation that Ukraine has shown itself to be, forging itself in the fire of an illegal invasion led by a hideous despot—a new tyrant of our age and one of the world's worst dictators, who has no regard for individual rights, human rights or human life. The people of Ukraine are fighting a war for freedom in the world today. They're fighting a war for their families, they're fighting a war for Europe and they're doing so at their own expense. It's right and proper that the Australian government continues to support it. It's right and proper that we have a united and bipartisan commitment to support Ukraine through this period.

I know that Australia, being the nation that it is with the carefree, happy-go-lucky people that we are, will never forget the downing of MH17 or the people who died from the Netherlands and from Australia. We'll never forget our citizens shot down by Russian tyranny. We'll never forget our friends in Europe. We'll never forget the people of Ukraine. One year on, we fully support everything that Ukraine is doing to defend itself and establish itself as a country of freedom in Europe.