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Motion - Ukraine - Territorial Sovereignty

Tuesday 24 May 2022

The Legislative Council -

(1) Recognises Ukrainian territorial sovereignty and its right to peace, freedom, and democratic rule.

(2) Notes -

(a) That Tasmania is home to both Ukrainian and Russian communities who have received this news with deep concern for their loved ones, and we stand with all Tasmanians in wishing to provide care and support for those communities; and

(b) Tasmania stands with the Australian Government in affirming our respect for Ukrainian territorial sovereignty and its right to peace, freedom, and democratic rule.

(3) Acknowledges that there is no justification for this aggression and condemns the aggressive action which has been borne by innocent Ukrainians.

(4) Further notes that Tasmania has a strong history of welcoming and providing support for national efforts in providing humanitarian responses to previous conflicts and will continue to work with the Australian Government in jointly responding to the unfolding events

[3.36 p.m.]

Ms ARMITAGE (Launceston) - Mr President, I rise also to proclaim my absolute support for the member's motion and to make some brief remarks. On 31 March, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy addressed a joint sitting of the Australia federal Parliament. He said:

The geographical distance between us is insane, thousands of kilometres, but what does this distance mean for those who have common understanding, who see the world the same way, who are bitterly disturbed when the enemy comes, when children are killed and cities are destroyed. When refugees are shot on the roads. When a peaceful country is turned into a burned territory? Then any distance disappears. Geography means nothing. Only humanity matters. Only a dream of returning to a peaceful life. A dream we will fulfill. Definitely. And definitely together.

Vladimir Putin's unjustifiable and illegitimate war in Ukraine violates not only the right of Ukrainian territorial sovereignty and its right to peace, freedom, and democratic rule, it violates the right in all sovereign states that people have the freedom from aggression, violence and interference. Since 24 February, estimated casualties in this conflict amount to tens of thousands of people, millions displaced and seeking asylum, thousands of buildings destroyed and thousands more damaged, amounting to billions of dollars. Innocent women and children, non-combatants, have been hurt and killed. Hospitals and schools have been targeted and destroyed. Ukrainians have been required to flee, leaving behind their homes, friends, families, pets, schools and sense of all identity and normality behind them.

We have not seen this kind of unjustifiable, entirely unnecessary cruelty in Europe for quite some time. That it is being inflicted on innocent Ukrainians, in a developed country, in a developed part of the world in 2022 is chilling.

I recently attended a rally in Launceston organised by the Association of Ukrainians in Tasmania. People at this rally told of atrocities going on in their previous home towns, to schoolchildren and their teachers, with little to no concern for human life. One young lady was in tears as she told a story of her school friend fighting for her life in the intensive care unit, not knowing if she will live or die. Many of the Ukrainians now in Tasmania cannot speak our language and are terribly afraid for the loved ones they have left behind. While the rally was not huge, it was very moving.

Tasmania is indeed home to both Russian and Ukrainian communities, and I hope every Tasmanian understands that there is a vast difference between the decisions and actions that are being made in Moscow and the people who hail from those regions, who now call Tasmanian home. Ukrainians and Russians alike are hurting right now. As valued members of our community, any tragedy which touches their lives, touches our lives also. Their pain is our pain.

I want to affirm unequivocally that all Ukrainians and Russians in Tasmania are valued, respected and wanted here. We are made a richer, better place for their presence. I offer my unconditional support in any way I can muster to the Ukrainian and Russian communities here in Tasmania, as I am sure every member in this place does. We stand in solidarity and with our peace in our hearts with any Ukrainian or Russian in Tasmania who is hurting.

In his address to federal parliament, President Zelenskyy stated:

But the worst thing is if Russia is not stopped now, if Russia is not brought to justice, some other countries of the world that dream of a similar war against their neighbors will decide that this is possible for them as well. The fate of global security is being decided now.

The values which are held in Putin's Moscow are different from the values that democratic, peaceful, and prosperous people hold. They are the actions of bullies who believe that influence can be bought and that power can be taken with violence and force.

In an article for The Atlantic on 24 March, Sir Antony Beevor, a military historian, states that:

Putin's treatment of his own people is as pitiless as his treatment of his enemies.

The lack of respect for human life is manifested in the death and casualty numbers of Russian soldiers who have been sent to Ukraine, a conflict which has proven to be harder than I am sure Putin ever envisaged.

This cavalier attitude in Moscow did not develop spontaneously. It has progressed over the decades since the end of the Cold War and is found in the cruel and inhumane treatment which Russia inflicts over its own citizens, including restricting their rights and access to free speech, fair commerce and myriad civil liberties.

Tyranny does not endure. It never does. We have seen time and time again what happens to dictators, despots and tyrants. For now, however, Ukraine and her people are suffering, hurting and crying. Children are already disadvantaged from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and cannot go to school, cannot play and grow with their friends and experience the normal things about childhood.

My heart breaks for Ukraine. The Ukrainian people are never far from our thoughts and I stand behind not only the people, but the values of peace, freedom and democratic rule that they fight to uphold. I support the motion.


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