House debates

Tuesday, 17 October 2023



5:36 pm

Photo of Garth HamiltonGarth Hamilton (Groom, Liberal National Party) Share this | Hansard source

I rise to join speakers from across the parliament in condemnation of Hamas's attacks on Israel. It has been impossible to look at the visuals that have come through with the stories over the last couple of days without feeling incredible emotion. Indeed, that is the intent of what Hamas have done—to evoke emotion. Largely, what they want to drive is fear. That's what terrorists seek to do; to drive fear into the house not just of their opponents but also their opponents' allies and all good people around the world. We must find in ourselves the ability to feel another emotion, that being courage—the courage to stand with our friends, the courage to stand up for Western democracies, and the courage to be there in times of crisis.

I'll make a brief contribution about my own reflections. I spent a good many years in the Middle East, living and working throughout quite a few Middle Eastern countries, and during that time, as you would expect, I developed friendships right across that part of the world. I have Palestinian friends and colleagues I worked with, including people from Jordan. I remember escorting a young Israeli guy to Saudi Arabia, which I thought for me would never happen, but we sat in an office together and worked with the Saudis. What I found was this very complex world which from the outside we sometimes see in very simple division. In the quest for peace there is complexity. In the quest for peace there is compromise, there is negotiation, and there is the need to understand each other and work together. But at no point has Hamas engaged in the quest for peace.

This is an organisation devoted to bringing about the end of Israel. It has never sought compromise. It has never sought to understand or work together. So while peace may afford some complexity, in an act of terrorism there is this very clear simplicity. There is a great wrong that has been committed by Hamas and, very clearly, I stand 100 per cent beside Israel and the Israeli people. I am very happy to have communicated that to the ambassador, and that's a position I will continue to hold. It doesn't stop us from having hopes of one day aiding peace in the Middle East. We won't be prevented from doing that by standing very clear on our values. That won't prevent that. We certainly stand up and say: no, Hamas. This is wrong. There is right and wrong. What you've done is a terrible, terrible wrong. I commend the government on very clearly articulating their position, and I'm very happy that we were able to join with them.

I think there's an important element here too in that it's not just the legacy of Israel that encourages us to provide them support; there's also its future. Among democracies in the Western tradition, there are a vast array of different types, but we must always defend each other. We must work together. The freedom and the equality that is found and encouraged in Western democracies is something worth pursuing, worth fighting for, worth supporting, no matter how terrible the opponent, no matter the fear that they seek to strike in your heart, and I think it's important that we always stand very clearly for that.

I must say I was terribly disappointed to see the Greens and some of the teals use this occasion to make a statement that I don't think aligns with community values and I don't think aligns with where Australia stands. We've come to expect this from the Greens. We've come to expect these little bits of theatre, where they put themselves onto stands far greater than their competency or capacity would ever allow, pushing themselves into conversations they have no place in. I think it says a lot that those teals who went through talking on integrity, who tried to present themselves as community advocates, have come out with this extreme position they've taken. It's upon them to explain themselves to their electorates, but I hope it's very, very clearly held that those views have no place in common, decent Australia.

What will happen over the next days and weeks will no doubt be terrible, and supporting Israel is not to discount that there will be incredible harm done. I do think of my friends across the entire Middle East, the entire area, and the dangers that will be brought into their lives, but it is important for us to remind them and ourselves that this is the work of Hamas. This is what they have sought. The Middle East has been working hard to secure peace by any means in recent times, and we have seen relationships established that we never thought would be. Quite frankly, to see Saudi Arabia and Israel working together has been, I think, beneficial. But to see Iran continue to provoke demonstrates that there are those who do not see the same value in peace, who do not see the same value in democracies in the Western tradition.

Sadly, what's ahead of us will no doubt be as terrible as the events we have just witnessed. On a personal level, I don't know how I could ask the mothers, the fathers, the husbands and the wives of people who we have seen murdered, tortured and kidnapped—man to man, person to person—to show restraint. It's a terrible burden that has once again been thrown on the community. There is no chest-beating in our support of Israel. What's about to happen is a war in which there will be sadness and terrible impact. We must remember this is what Hamas have sought—this is what Hamas have created. We must stand against them, not just now but through the difficult days ahead, and remind ourselves that the freedoms and the equalities that we enjoy here and that Israel has been searching for and building within itself are worth standing for, and we must continue to do so resolutely.


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