John Howard says Afghan embassy staff are ‘abandoned’

The man who made the call to send Australian troops in the Afghan war says some of the locally recruited personnel who worked alongside the ADF have been “let down”.

When the Taliban took control of Kabul a year ago, John Howard said Australia had a “moral obligation” to help Afghan interpreters and other personnel who served for our government, giving them visas.

At the launch of his new book A sense of balancethe former prime minister was asked about a backlog of humanitarian visas and reports that some people have been killed in Afghanistan while queuing.

John Howard visiting troops in Afghanistan in 2005 when he was Prime Minister. (Andre Taylor)

“If the facts you cited are true, we let these people down and we failed to fulfill that obligation,” Howard said.

“To the extent that either party has failed to meet this responsibility, I criticize them.”

Howard was also asked to give his opinion on a vote in Parliament, as the Labor government pledged to hold a referendum on the potential change to our constitution.

The proposal would see the creation of a body to advise Parliament on matters affecting First Nations Australians.

The former prime minister noted he was still ‘undecided’ over one vote, but raised concerns about any possible ‘coercive’ influence on the government.

“The prime minister said…it would be a very brave government to ignore a recommendation from this body,” Howard said.

“I would like more information on anything that I believe has divisive potential, that has the potential to establish a body that is seen to exert coercive influence over the government.”