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Ukraine Sovereignty

Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP

Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP  -  Thursday, 3 March 2022

Tags: Violence

Dr WOODRUFF (Franklin) - Mr Deputy Speaker, I have just heard the news that Dr Broad mentioned. It is very sad the news that a city has fallen in Ukraine.

People I have spoken with, Ukrainian Tasmanians and other people, are incredibly buoyed by the spirit of resistance in Ukraine. I strongly support this motion and condemn the actions of Putin, who is driving his country to do unconscionable acts of cruelty and is luring and entrapping many people to take part in a bloody war that they do not know what it is for. There is no purpose.

Dr WOODRUFF - Mr Deputy Speaker, I, as a member of the Greens, stand in condemnation of Mr Putin in strong solidarity and support with the people of Ukraine, who are putting up an incredible resistance and have so far managed to stall the progress of one of the most powerful armies on the planet. This is only a week into a war that already has a human toll beyond what we are able to comprehend.

It is basically an eighteenth-century war that is being run by a monarch who has decided to devour his neighbouring country and he has no right, no legality and no provocation. It is being streamed live to us on TikTok and other forms of social media so we are all party to the suffering and the resistance of the Ukrainian people and witnessing the effects of the brutality of Mr Putin's orders. Children, men, women, pets, schools, hospitals and homes - all are being bombed.

It is because of the fact that this an eighteenth-century war but it is being streamed in a twenty-first-century planet. It means that we are not only watching the destruction but we are privy to the incredibly supercharged and empowering response from people in Ukraine, citizens in Russia and people all across the planet, who are doing everything they can to support the Ukrainian people.

We have all been moved, I am sure, by different images that have affected us. I am surprised when I look at the things that bring tears to my eyes. Sometimes it is simply observing an ordinary person's life that has been completely turned upside-down, confronting a situation they do not know how to respond to. Sometimes it is queues of the more than a million Ukrainians who already have had to flee from their country, and the United Nations is warning of 4 million more and up to 12 million people within Ukraine who might need humanitarian effort very quickly.

It is also hard not to be buoyed by the incredible bravery of Russian civilians, citizens who have stood up to the likelihood of being arrested, detained, tortured, imprisoned, as happens so often to people who protest, which is now illegal in Russia. You see people like Elena Osipova, who was protesting in St Petersburg against the war. She is a survivor of the siege of Leningrad, which lasted for two years and four months, and more than a million Russians died at that time. She recognises exactly the same dictator in Mr Putin and she stands against her president's immorality.

We have also seen the effect of international sanctions. We have seen the European Parliament galvanised with a standing ovation for the Ukrainian diplomat and sending their support to the extraordinary leadership of Volodymyr Zelenskyy. Volodymyr Zelenskyy is a person who could have chosen the easy path. He could be bunkered next door in Hungary or Poland, but there he is, making sure every day while they still have access to the internet that his people understand that he will never leave them, mounting a response, enabling their country to use every single means at their disposal - Molotov cocktails, crocheting camouflage nets - everything that people can do, men, women and children are doing. The Ukrainian men are fighting, but 17 per cent are women as well. People of all ages and abilities are doing what they can to protect their homeland.

Volodymyr Zelenskyy tried diplomacy. It was notable that he was the one who was doing everything he could prior to the invasion to undersell the likelihood of an invasion. Other world leaders were talking about the threat of Russia and Volodymyr Zelenskyy, until the very end, used every diplomatic means available to try to avert what is now the horrific damage that is being done. But Putin doubled down on his efforts and has taken no olive branches that have been offered to him. He is now moving to brute force. He is enacting war crimes and threatening nuclear violence.

We do not know what Putin's mad intentions are, but he is insane. He is a psychopath. If he thinks he is just going to install some sort of a puppet government that he can stand on and get to do Russia's bidding, he has no idea. He cannot hold back the democratic force of the Ukrainian people. The Ukrainians know that freedom is priceless and now they are experiencing the price of defending it.

The Tasmanian Greens exist to represent and defend lutruwita/Tasmania, our people and our beautiful island. Today, and until this bloody war ends and Putin and Russian soldiers are repulsed from Ukraine, we will also stand in solidarity with Ukrainians against this immoral invasion. We agree with Ukrainians that freedom is priceless and we know that democracy is essential for freedom. It is far from perfect but it is the best system we have to protect us as a society from division, violence, war and dictatorship. We will refocus our energies in defence of the preconditions of democracy. We know that democracy is corrupted by vested interests that wield power and influence over governments. Putin's dictatorship is propped up by Russian oligarchs, the super-powerful propertied classes that were made rich after perestroika on real estate and by stealing the natural assets of the Russian people.

We will defend the need for our own Government to be accountable and truthful, the need for free and fair elections where everyone can participate on an even playing field and where the interests of corporations and the rich do not dominate. It is notable that we have vested interests in Australia with overweening powers of certain lobbyists, the oil and gas corporations, that no doubt are having an impact on our national democracy. We have a Prime Minister who has failed to make any comments on the IPPC report which came out two days ago. It is an uncomfortable truth. They are the sorts of uncomfortable truths we have to face.

I want to end by talking about the fact that there have been 160-odd hours now of defence and the heroism of the people of Ukraine who are standing up, who have breached the blockade and are doing everything in their power to put themselves between the tanks and the city of Kyiv, and all the other cities that are being encircled at the moment. We stand with them in solidarity and community. We recognise the common humanity between them and all people around the world who reject the immorality of Mr Putin's invasion. We decry the war crimes that are happening and we will be here and offer what we can to help people in Ukraine, supporting the Government's call to provide access for any refugees in Tasmania and to speak up and continue to defend our democracy which is so precious.