Main Image

02 March 2022

Footage of Ukrainian women, young and old, making Molotov cocktails to throw at tanks this past week was stirring and telling.

Serious stuff and not for the faint-hearted, but the fierceness of Ukraine's homegrown army in protecting its homeland has slowed Russia's invading troops.

But they still face overwhelming odds.

Forty-four million Ukrainians are not going to stand back and let the Russians take their homeland without a fight.

This invasion has been coming for many years, with the temperature rising to a burning fever in the past six months.

It has now become the most significant European crisis since the end of World War Two, which is shocking.

Many Australians have learnt their first Ukrainian words. Slava Ukraini! Glory to Ukraine! has been shouted across the world in passion, fury and heartbreak for the past week as Ukraine and its diaspora raise their voices in anger against the Russian invasion.

The Australian-Ukrainian community has been particularly vocal, with rallies and protests held across the country this past weekend attended in the thousands.

The Ukrainian Association of Australia has its head office in my electorate, so I've worked with them a long time and I have come to know and deeply respect a lot of Ukrainian Australians.

They have invited me to speak at rallies this past weekend and the one before.

It was an honour to represent the Labor Party and stand with Ukraine.

I attended the rallies because I believe Australians all stand with Ukraine.

There is a ripple going out in the TVs and the lounge rooms of Australia.

A ripple of sadness. A ripple of shock. A ripple of sickness.

How can this be and what does it have to do with us?

And I say to you and through you and on behalf of you, Ukraine is fighting for sovereignty, democracy and freedom and they are principles we all must safeguard.

It is not in our interests for any country to think they can threaten sovereignty, or changes to the status quo.

I think Australians have worked out that Russian President Vladimir Putin is a dishonourable, disreputable dictator.

This is first and foremost a war with disastrous humanitarian consequences for the millions of innocent Ukrainians.

The United Nations has said 500,000 Ukrainians have already fled the country for safety in neighbouring nations.

The number of refugees is predicted to rise to four million.

Labor has given the Morrison Government bipartisan support in its approach to supporting Ukraine thus far, including defence and humanitarian aid, as well as visas to refugees.

What happens in the Ukraine will also affect Australia from our petrol prices to inflation in the world economy.

More important we Australians can't condone one country invading another independent country at the whim of a dictator.

A coalition of Western Allies, including the US, UK and the EU, have removed some Russian banks from the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT) messaging system, which is a critical tool for international banking used by the Russians to access profits from oil and gas sales.

This is something I called for personally last week and appears to be working to some degree.

Labor has also played a role in ensuring Russia's rivers of oil and gas are stymied.

In 2021, Labor's shadow foreign affairs minister Penny Wong led the debate in the Senate for the introduction of what's known as the Magnitsky Act. This is named after a Russian lawyer and accountant who got killed by Putin.

The law stops Russian oligarchs and the Russian Government from having property in other countries and transmitting money from human rights abuses.

Penny and Labor leader Anthony Albanese have also been categorically united in condemning Russia's shameful act of aggression.

Russia alone is the aggressor, and Russia alone bears responsibility for the bloodshed and suffering that will follow.

Australia must stand united with our allies in holding Russia to account.

We believe in the rule of law and democracy, and we stand with Ukrainian Australians.

Slava Ukraini! 
If people want to make a donation to Ukrainians, please visit
This was first published in The West Australian on Wednesday, 2 March 2022.