The Opposition welcomes the announcement today of an additional $110 million in military and humanitarian support for Ukraine.
While this assistance is desperately needed and has complete bipartisan support, its impact on the ground would likely have been far greater had it been delivered sooner.
The Prime Minister confirmed this decision of additional support was only agreed to by Cabinet this morning, a decision which could have been made months ago.
Disappointingly, this package was not included in Labor’s May Budget and this last-minute decision will be absorbed by the already incapacitated Defence budget. Labor needs to explain how Defence can absorb these commitments when $1.5 billion has already been cut from its Budget, $1.8 billion of cuts still need to be found and no replenishment strategy exists to compensate for the commitments being made to Ukraine.
The Opposition has for months been calling for a further comprehensive package of support to Ukraine and, following the absence of such support in the Budget, wrote to the Government calling on them to respond to Ukraine’s public campaigns for further assistance from Australia.
The Albanese Government must live up to its promises of transparency and provide a full and reasonable explanation as to why the requests of the Ukrainian government have not be fulfilled.
Today’s announcement does not include the military capabilities Ukraine have been publicly campaigning for nor is it known how quickly the vehicles announced will be on the ground.
In March 2022 the Coalition urgently provided $65 million in direct humanitarian support to Ukraine. While today’s additional $10 million of humanitarian assistance is welcome it has taken more than a year for additional funding to be provided. This pales alongside Coalition commitments to humanitarian support and energy assistance, which Labor continues to overlook.
Overall, this announcement appears to be too little and made too slowly relative to the critical needs Ukraine has right now.
Ukrainians continue to bravely defend their sovereignty and their freedom and the support of their allies should not show any signs of fatigue.
Australia stands in solidarity with Ukraine and the Opposition continues to provide bipartisan support for the Government to act quickly and ensure support is available on the ground in Ukraine as soon as possible.
We urge the Government to keep all Ukrainian requests under active consideration rather than waiting until pressure builds or the next Prime Ministerial photo opportunity approaches.