Australian MP Peter Khalil slams Craig Kelly on Sky News: You had your trip paid by the Azerbaijani government

By ANC Australia | Wednesday, 09 May 2018

CANBERRA: Members of the Federal Parliament, Peter Khalil and Craig Kelly have clashed live on Sky News Australia, with the Member for Wills slamming the Member for Hughes for "talking down Australia's democracy in comparison to Azerbaijan's" after he labelled the recent presidential elections in the petro-dictatorship as "democratic" following a state-sponsored trip.

The elections Kelly observed, leading a delegation of Federal MPs in his role as Chair of the Australia - Azerbaijan Friendship Group, saw dictator Ilham Aliyev re-elected for a record 7-year term in office after recent changed to the Constitution supporting an extension to his rule. Incidentally, Kelly also observed the referendum changing these laws, before returning to Australia to say "we have a lot to learn from Azerbaijan's democracy".

Khalil laid into Kelly live on Sky News after highlighting that Azerbaijan's electoral commission released the result of the previous presidential elections in that country "a day before the actual election".

"You've got a despot who specialises in nepotism who hired his wife as Vice-President, and you're telling us that we've got something to learn from them," Khalil said. "That's just utterly ridiculous."

He continued: "You had your trip paid by the Azerbaijani government, I get it. But do not talk down Australia's democracy. We have an independent Australian Electoral Commission, we have one of the most thorough and rigid processes in one of the best, democratic systems in the world."

Kelly did concede, as he had in a Sydney Morning Herald article exposing his comments, that Azerbaijan has "had the same family ruling there as President - father and son - since the Soviet occupation ended", but he still referred to the country as "a fledgling democracy".

Armenian National Committee of Australia (ANC-AU) Executive Director, Haig Kayserian commented: "We thank Mr. Khalil for once again bringing Mr. Kelly's questionable loyalty to a regime that gives any dictatorship a run for its money when it comes to press and individual freedoms, has been declared as 'not free' by Freedom House, and regularly breaks an internationally-brokered ceasefire to fire across the Line of Contact, murdering Armenians on the border of the Republic of Artsakh."

In response to Kelly's consistent assertions that voter identification laws in Azerbaijan supercede the transparecy of Australia's electoral commission, Kayserian said: "Even in cases of voter fraud, Australia's due processes have revealed parties at fault and brought them to justice. In Azerbaijan, European observers have cited the lack of opposition and any comparable checks and balances."

Kayserian added: "We welcome Mr. Kelly has at least now admitted that Aliyev's Azerbaijan has had one surname leading it for as long as it has been independent, but to still refer to it as a democracy is as basketcase as the 'democracy' he is referring to."

ANC-AU, which has been at the forefront of bringing this saga to public attention, has requested to meet with Craig Kelly.