Labor has demanded the federal government “do what is morally right” by fast-tracking visas for Afghans who helped Australia during the war, warning failure to act quickly will cost lives as the Taliban surges.
The hardline group, which ruled most of Afghanistan for five years before the 2001 invasion, has regained swathes of the country following the withdrawal of troops from the US, UK and Australia.
Hundreds of Afghans who supported Australia now fear being killed in reprisals after the federal government refused to consider them as part of a special visa program, according to The Australian.
Foreign Minister Marise Payne has told one aid he was not eligible for the locally engaged program because he was hired via a subcontractor.
Labor foreign affairs spokeswoman Penny Wong lashed Ms Payne for the distinction, saying Australia had an “obligation” to protect people who worked for it regardless of how they were hired.