Richard Di Natale labels Australian arms sales to Saudi Arabia 'contemptible'
Richard Di Natale Richard Di Natale labels Australian arms sales to Saudi Arabia 'contemptible'
Greens leader criticises governmentâs handling of Saudi Arabia, including the response to Jamal Khashoggiâs killing
Richard Di Natale has criticised the Morrison governmentâs response to the killing of a journalist Jamal Khashoggi in a Saudi Arabian embassy and accused it of making a âcontemptible choiceâ to sell arms to the Gulf state.
The Australian Greens leader is set to make the comments in a speech to the Australian Council for International Development conference on Tuesday in which he also targets Scott Morrison for copying Donald Trumpâs policy on the possible embassy move in Israel.
In January the Coalition announced Australia aims to become one of the worldâs top 10 arms exporters. The policy, while criticised at the time, has been drawn into sharper focus by the governmentâs indecision over whether to impose an arms export ban on Saudi Arabia in retaliation against the killing of Washington Post reporter Khashoggi in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.Jamal Khashoggi killing: what we know and what will happen next Read more
In a Senate estimates hearing last week, the Department of Defence admitted it had made 14 approvals of military gear and services to Saudi Ara bia in the past two years. On the same day, defence minister Marise Payne would not rule out an export ban, saying âall options are on the tableâ.
In the speech, seen by Guardian Australia, Di Natale criticises the Australian governmentâs handling of Saudi Arabia, noting it took âweeks for our foreign minister to respondâ to the Khashoggi incident and âweâve barely heard a peep about Saudi atrocities in Yemenâ.
âAt least 10,000 Yemenis have been killed, many going about their business â" attending weddings, children on their way to school, doing their groceries â¦ 13 million people are being deliberately starved as a weapon on war.â
Di Natale said Australia continues to sell military equipment to Saudi Arabiaâs national guard.
âThe Morrison government is making a contemptible choice. It has an economic plan built on weapons of death rather than one that promotes a sustainable future.
âOur response to the gruesome Saudi r egime is one of many examples of our crawling retreat on human rights and development globally.â
Di Natale also criticises Scott Morrisonâs announcement that Australia will consider moving its embassy in Israel to Jerusalem as âanother sign of Australiaâs complete capitulation to Donald Trumpâs erratic and reactionary view of the worldâ.Australia mulls Jerusalem embassy move: what happened and why it matters Read more
He says the possible embassy move amounts to âoffering tacit support for the Israeli governmentâs illegal settlement enterprise, the Gaza blockade and its disproportionate use of forceâ.
Di Natale accuses both Labor and Coalition governments of gutting the foreign aid budget, to its âlowest point in our history as a proportion of gross national income (GNI)â.
He says the government is âmore intent on pandering to xenophobes and racists than standing up for the worldâs most vulnerable peopleâ.< p>In April, then minister for international development and the Pacific, Concetta Fierravanti-Wells, claimed that increasing aid spending was politically untenable while calling on UK to pay more.
Di Natale predicts the Coalition will lose the next election, and says the Greens are the only party to commit to spending 0.7% GNI by 2030 on foreign aid.
In February Laborâs shadow foreign affairs minister Penny Wong committed that Labor will rebuild and grow the aid program âto the fullest extent that financial circumstances allow â¦ in a timely mannerâ.Topics
- Richard Di Natale
- Scott Morrison
- Australian politics
- Penny Wong
- Jamal Khashoggi
- Arms trade
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