Sen Di Natale: It is remarkable that we have had so much time dominated in this chamber by questions of eligibility of senators to sit in the Senate when, in fact, what we are witnessing across the other side of the world are tensions that could lead us to a nuclear conflict. Let’s be very clear about what’s going on here. We have Donald Trump, an unhinged and dangerous president, whose rhetoric has led us to the point of North Korea’s sixth nuclear weapons test, with no sign whatsoever they will back down. Kim Jong-un was never going to back down in the face of Donald Trump’s bluster. All of his talk of ‘fire and fury’, his notions that the time for talk was over, that he wouldn’t rule out detonating a nuclear weapon—all that’s done is serve to goad North Korea. We have one dangerous and unhinged world leader goading and provoking another more unhinged and even more dangerous world leader. I’ve said it before: Donald Trump is hot-headed; he is a loose-fingered leader; he is a man who has such little self-control that he could easily start a conflict—a war, indeed—with a tweet. We are seeing the world edging closer and closer to a needless and devastating war.
Donald Trump has backed himself into a corner, and because of the actions of the Liberal Party prime minister, we are right there with him. Over the weekend Donald Trump threatened a massive military response, but North Korea is not backing down. We know that North Korea regularly threatens the US and its allies, so what is the strategy here? What is the end game? Where is it going? The US either has to respond militarily or has to back down. They are the only alternatives, and here we have the prime minister of this country deciding that either of those paths is sensible. Clearly, they’re not.
What Australia must now do is force Donald Trump to take his medicine, to back down and call for dialogue—not back him in. Where we have other world leaders urging restraint, urging caution and calling for diplomatic solutions, we have Malcolm Turnbull offering uncritical support for this mad man’s strategy. We have pre-emptively committed our troops to whatever war with North Korea. We have written another blank cheque. We are participating in the highly provocative Ulchi-Freedom Guardian war games with the US in South Korea. Let’s be clear about what that is. It is a massive 10-day military exercise with tens of thousands of troops and explosions loud enough to be heard north of the border. It’s a clear signal to North Korea, but not one that they are listening to.
Because of the actions of the Prime Minister, the Turnbull government has made itself part of the problem. It is now so obvious to anybody who is paying attention that Donald Trump is a deeply dangerous ally who is taking us headlong into a conflict. We need to recognise that people in this chamber had been saying this before he was elected. Now that he has the capacity to be able to inflict carnage on the world’s population, we are seeing a retreat from those voices who previously expressed concern about the leadership of Donald Trump.
It is high time for the coalition government, and indeed the ALP, to begin acting in the interests of all Australians, not to mention the interests of people on the Korean Peninsula. The US alliance is making us less safe. Let us a acknowledge that cold, hard reality: it is making us less safe. It’s time to rip up the US alliance and start again—to renegotiate the terms of our relationship with the US. If we did that right now, we might actually give Trump pause for thought and we would certainly make Australia and, indeed, the world a much safer place.
Chamber Senate on 4/09/2017 Item QUESTIONS WITHOUT NOTICE: TAKE NOTE OF ANSWERS – North Korea Speaker: Di Natale, Sen Richard / Parliment Statement used for Truth in News Reporting