House debates

Monday, 16 October 2023



11:28 am

Photo of Anthony AlbaneseAnthony Albanese (Grayndler, Australian Labor Party, Prime Minister) Share this | | Hansard source

I move:

That the House—

(1) unequivocally condemns the attacks on Israel by Hamas, which are the heinous acts of terrorists, and have encompassed the targeting and murder of civilians, including women and children, the taking of hostages, and indiscriminate rocket fire;

(2) stands with Israel and recognises its inherent right to defend itself;

(3) condemns antisemitism and recognises that generations of Jewish people have been subjected to this hateful prejudice;

(4) calls for the immediate and unconditional release of all hostages;

(5) recognises that Hamas does not represent the Palestinian people, nor their legitimate needs and aspirations;

(6) acknowledges the devastating loss of Israeli and Palestinian life and that innocent civilians on all sides are suffering as a result of the attacks by Hamas and the subsequent conflict;

(7) supports justice and freedom for Israelis and Palestinians alike;

(8) supports international efforts to establish and maintain humanitarian access into Gaza, including safe passage for civilians;

(9) reiterates Australia's consistent position in all contexts is to call for the protection of civilian lives and the observance of international law;

(10) supports Australia's engagement with countries in the Middle East and beyond, at all levels, in support of the protection of civilians, and the containment of the conflict;

(11) supports the Government's ongoing efforts to provide consular assistance to affected Australians and to facilitate the departure of those who want to leave the region;

(12) acknowledges what has unfolded is deeply distressing for many in the Australian community, close to the heart of many, and it is important that we maintain respect for each other here at home as people express their views;

(13) condemns all forms of hate speech and violent extremist activity, including Antisemitism and Islamophobia;

(14) recognises an attack on any religion is an attack on all religions and that we all share a responsibility to unite, condemn and defeat such an attack on our common values and way of life;

(15) notes that undermining social cohesion and unity by stoking fear and division risks Australia's domestic security; and

(16) affirms in the strongest possible terms that hateful prejudice has no place in Australia.

Honourable members: Hear, hear!

Mr Speaker, the evil committed by Hamas in Israel has chilled every Australian heart. We have all been profoundly shocked by the scale and wantonness of these attacks. What has happened affects both Israelis and Palestinians, so it's important to note that this motion deals with the situation that both now confront. And I will speak to both. We must face what has happened and what is now unfolding with complete moral clarity.

Hamas terrorists committed mass murder on a horrific scale. Jewish families here and across the world are mourning the greatest loss of Jewish life in a single day since the Holocaust. This was no act of war against the army of an enemy. It was the slaughter of innocent people. It was an act of terror—calculated, pitiless, brutality—compounded by a rain of rockets designed to kill and to terrify without mercy and without discrimination. We have learned of acts of violation and humiliation so grotesque they should be beyond imagination but have been made reality by Hamas. They targeted young people at a music festival and hunted them down. They preyed on families, on children, on parents trying to protect their babies in what often proved to be their desperate final act. And Hamas celebrated. They wanted the world to see. They rejoiced in suffering and death. It is so difficult to contemplate. It is so confronting. But we cannot turn away from the truth. We must call these atrocities for what they are. We must condemn them together, and today this motion does just that.

As hard as it is for any of us to bear, we know that it is hardest on Australia's Jewish community. Australia has the largest per capita Holocaust survivor population outside Israel. Our Jewish Australian community is made up of Holocaust survivors, their children and grandchildren. The branches of their family trees are heavy with loss and suffering, with acts of survival in the face of overwhelming odds. It is nearly 80 years since that darkest of chapters closed, nearly eight decades of the world saying: never again. It is shocking and wrong that in 2023 Jewish people are having to draw on their courage and resilience again, enduring such loss, enduring the weight of not knowing and, for those with relatives who are missing, enduring the weight of hope. I want to repeat the message that I've given to all Jewish Australians since the outset: you are not alone; your fellow Australians stand with you.

This was not just an attack on Israel. This was an attack on Jewish people. Let us be clear: Hamas is an enemy, but not just of Israel. Hamas is an enemy of all peace-loving Palestinian people who are left to pay a devastating price for this terrorism. Hamas honours no faith. It serves no cause but terror. It is no better than any other group in history that has clung to the twisted belief that victory can be built on the blood of the innocent. In the words of President Joe Biden:

Hamas does not stand for the Palestinian people's right to dignity and self-determination. Its stated purpose is the annihilation of the State of Israel and the murder of Jewish people.

They use Palestinian civilians as human shields.

Hamas offers nothing but terror and bloodshed with no regard to who pays the price.

We should be very clear that it is Hamas that is the enemy, not the Palestinian people. The Palestinian people are suffering greatly, and this suffering has impacted on generations of Palestinians. The humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip, which is home to two million people, is deteriorating rapidly. We are monitoring the situation closely and we support the work of the United Nations, the United States, Israel and Egypt to establish safe passage for Gaza civilians. There is no question that Israel has the right to defend itself against a terrorist organisation and to take strong action against it, but we join the calls of President Biden and other partners for Israel to operate by the rules of war.

As French President Emmanuel Macron has said, preserving civilian populations is the duty of democracies. Protecting innocent people is not a show of weakness; it is a measure of strength because true strength never turns its back on humanity. We care about the lives of everyone caught in this conflict—that is who we are as Australians. We believe all people have the right to live in peace within secure borders. The people of Israel have that right, the people of Palestine have that right and the best path to that reality is a negotiated two-state solution within internationally recognised borders. As Foreign Minister Penny Wong told the Australia-Israel Chamber of Commerce last week, one of the many tragic consequences of Hamas's abhorrent attack is that it's pushed that two-state solution further out of reach, and that also makes this an unconscionable crime perpetrated by Hamas against the Palestinian people.

Amidst this depravity, we can never let go of our own humanity because there is no greater weapon against inhumanity. As Ministers Wong and Conroy announced on Saturday, Australia is providing an initial $10 million in humanitarian assistance for civilians affected by the conflict in Gaza. We will provide $3 million to the International Committee of the Red Cross to fund urgent needs, like restoring essential services and providing medical support to victims of the conflict. Through United Nations agencies, we will provide $7 million to deliver critical support, including emergency water, nutrition, sanitation and hygiene services, as well as child protection. We will continue to monitor and assess the humanitarian situation and stand ready to provide further support.

We are moving quickly in pursuing all options to get out Australians who want to leave Israel or the occupied Palestinian territories. The first Australian government assisted departure flight landed in London on Saturday morning, with 238 Australians and their family members on board. I know we are all relieved those Australians are on their way home, and I thank the Australian officials who helped assist. We thank Qantas for the support it provided. Overnight we provided a further three flights: two operated by the ADF, and one government charter. But the situation on the ground is challenging and rapidly deteriorating. For Australians who want to leave, I can't emphasise this enough: I strongly encourage you to take the first option you can. Please do not wait for another option. We have secured flights for onward travel to Australia from London and Dubai. Information about those flights will be provided directly to passengers, and further details will be released soon.

We are assessing the situation very closely and working as fast as possible to help Australians. We know not everyone can get to the airport and that the security situation is very dangerous in some areas. We're supporting Australians who have registered with DFAT's consular emergency centre and are updating them with all the details directly. DFAT's crisis centre in Canberra is operating on a 24-hour basis. Officials from DFAT and other agencies have been deployed to the region, including Tel Aviv, to support assisted departures. If they have not done so already, Australians in Israel or the occupied Palestinian territories who want to leave and don't already have plans to depart should register via DFAT's crisis portal.

Just as Hamas stands in the way of a peaceful future for Israelis and Palestinians alike, they try to drive division in every peace-loving democratic society and they seek to fan the embers of anti-Semitism. We cannot allow that. We will not allow that. I know I speak for every member of this House when I say that this kind of hateful prejudice has no place in Australia. The awful anti-Semitism chanted by some of the protesters at the Sydney Opera House is beyond offensive; it is a betrayal of our Australian values. We reject it and we condemn it. Our country is better than that and our country is a better place because of our Jewish community. Our government is committed to keeping the community safe.

Just as we join in this place to condemn Hamas, the message we should be sending loudly and clearly from this place to all Australians is to avoid the traps set by such forces of division. Anyone seeking to exploit people's suffering for political purposes should consider the damage they risk doing. Anyone tempted by the lazy but corrosive option of false equivalence should shun that temptation. This is a time for compassion, not cynicism. Something that very much bears repeating is the advice of Mike Burgess, the Director-General of ASIO:

… it is important that all parties consider the implications for social cohesion when making public statements. As I have said previously, words matter. ASIO has seen direct connections between inflamed language and inflamed community tensions.

He goes on:

As always, ASIO is not interested in those who are engaged in lawful protest, but rather the small subset of protesters who may wish to escalate protest to violence. This includes religiously motivated and ideologically motivated extremists, or anyone who believes that violence is a means to further their own interests.

We have no room for anti-Semitism in this nation just as we have no room for Islamophobia. We have no room for hatred—not against Jews, not against Muslims. Our nation has been made better by generations of both. An important part of our strength as a nation is the breadth of our society, and it is such a great and vibrant strength, but, even in a country as stable and open as ours, social cohesion cannot be taken for granted. It must be nourished and protected. My government is committed to preventing discrimination against people of faith, including through anti-vilification protections. We have established a new, $40 million grants program to improve safety and security at places of worship, religious schools and community groups. I can announce that today the cabinet has agreed to $10 million from the confiscated assets program to be added to that $40 million and to fast-track the processing of what were many hundreds of applications just this week. We expect to have an announcement of funding in days.

We have committed to funding the Australian Human Rights Commission to complete its National Anti-Racism Framework and implement a comprehensive national antiracism strategy. Last October Australia signed a United Nations Human Rights Council statement on combatting antisemitism and online hatred.

In June the government introduced the Counter-Terrorism Legislation Amendment (Prohibited Hate Symbols and Other Measures) Bill to criminalise public displays of hate symbols. In addition to the important measures that seek to protect the community from symbols of hate, the bill will ensure that glorifying and praising acts of terrorism are criminal offences under Commonwealth law. The bill will also increase the penalties for those seeking to glorify these atrocities.

Earlier this year we also launched the Multicultural Framework Review to ensure Australian government policy settings and organisational arrangements are fit for purpose in supporting our multicultural society. There hasn't been a review of how government supports multiculturalism since 1973.

The government is continuing to implement a strengths based approach to build on the successes of Australia's cohesive and inclusive multicultural society. Those successes are considerable. As Australians, we should all take pride in what we have built together as an open-hearted, welcoming country driven by compassion and an instinctive sense of fairness. We showed it in 1948, when Australia played a role in the foundation of the modern state of Israel. It was a moment of light after the darkness of the Holocaust.

On this side of the House another source of pride is the fact that it was a Labor minister and future Labor leader, Doc Evatt, who was there at the heart of it all at the United Nations as President of the General Assembly. With Evatt presiding over the UN and supported by Prime Minister Chifley, Australia was the first country to vote for Israel to be made a member.

Through this motion today, our parliament sends a message of sympathy and solidarity to the people of Israel after the attacks by Hamas, and to our own Jewish community: all of us, and all Australians, embrace you in this time of trauma; we cannot lighten the weight that is upon you, but we hold you in our hearts. I commend the motion to the House.

Honourable members: Hear, hear!

11:47 am

Photo of Peter DuttonPeter Dutton (Dickson, Liberal Party, Leader of the Opposition) Share this | | Hansard source

I want to thank the Prime Minister for his words and for discussions that we've been involved in this morning in relation to the substance of the motion. It's remarkable that this attack on 7 October was just a total act of sheer barbarity. The images, the shocking betrayal and the interpretation of what took place mean that no longer can the sympathisers of these murderous terrorists call them freedom fighters. No longer can the apologists of this death cult claim they have a just and noble cause. What occurred nine days ago was the embodiment of evil, and the abhorrent acts of Hamas's inhumanity have been evident for the world to see: missiles raining down on Israeli cities; militants invading Israeli territory; a massacre of young people at a music festival; civilians gunned down in their cars, fired upon while fleeing and executed in the streets after surrendering; women being raped and being stripped naked, dragged and displayed through the streets; lifeless and mutilated bodies being paraded on the backs of utilities; mothers and fathers riddled with bullets as they used their bodies to cover their children in a final act of bravery; jihadists cheering over the dead bodies of Israeli soldiers; babies being beheaded.

We pray for all of those innocent people who have been abducted and are currently being held as hostages, having been taken to Gaza, especially the elderly and the children. The monsters of Hamas will continue to use them as human shields. We saw images over the weekend of a Hamas militant nursing toddlers who had been abducted from Israel. If we needed any more convincing of Hamas's unashamed sadism, it's the glee that they have displayed in stating that they will film and post online the execution of those little boys and girls, those men and women, those survivors of the Holocaust.

We know that more than 1,000 Israelis are dead and thousands more are wounded. As others have observed, 7 October was Israel's September 11. It was, with great shame, the greatest loss of Jewish life on a single day since the end of the Holocaust. It was the most major attack on Israel since the Yom Kippur War of 1973. Let us be under no misapprehension about the nature of the attack: like Russia's invasion of Ukraine, Hamas's invasion of Israel was unprovoked, it was unjust and it was absolutely unacceptable. And let us be under no misapprehension about Hamas's intent from this point: it has no desire for a peaceful two-state solution. Its actions were designed to derail the peace process. Hamas wants to remove Israel from the map and drive people of Jewish faith into the sea.

The coalition joins with every other person of decent humanity in condemning this attack by Hamas militants on Israel. Israel has every right to exist. Israel has every right to defend itself and its people. Israel has every right to deter future attacks and other acts of aggression, of coercion and of interference. The coalition supports, and proudly supports, Israel's right to do what is necessary and needed in the circumstances, with every asset available to safeguard its sovereignty, to bolster its borders, to protect its people and to thwart the threats it now faces—the existential threats. There must be no restraint shown to those who have shown no restraint themselves in committing these vicious and vile acts of terrorism.

I had the honour of speaking the other day to the Australian resident ambassador of Israel, His Excellency Amir Maimon. I say to him and to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and to the people of Israel in their darkest hours: the coalition wishes you swift success in a war you did not choose but a war which you are compelled to fight.

The events unfolding abroad are disturbing for the many Australians who have close ties to Israel and Palestine. Some Australians will have family and friends caught up on both sides of this horrible conflict. Let me make this important point: events abroad must be no justification for rising tensions within our own communities. It's particularly repugnant that some Australians have decided to take to the streets to celebrate Hamas's attack on Israel and the slaughter of innocent Israeli children, women and men. We heard an odious barrage of comments on the attacks, describing them—in our country!—as a day of pride and a day of victory. Moreover, the rally which occurred on the evening of Monday 9 October at the Sydney Opera House was an abomination and a day of shame for our nation.

Australia's Jewish community were unable to gather at our iconic landmark, which, to the credit of the NSW government, had been illuminated in blue and white as a sign of support. They wanted to be there to mourn loved ones who have been lost and to express their solidarity. The anti-Israel protesters fired flares, burnt an Israeli flag and shouted words that we should never here in our country or anywhere else in the civilised world, including 'Gas the Jews', 'F the Jews' and 'F Israel.' That was the depth of the sentiment, and that is the reason we gather here today to condemn those comments. Such behaviour—

A government member: Stop saying it.

I won't stop saying it. I'll take the interjection. I won't stop saying it, because it should be condemned. The words should never have been said in the first place. Shame on you for condoning those words or suggesting that those words shouldn't be condemned in this place. I won't stop saying them, and the Jewish community here in Australia deserves to hear you condemn them as well. That behaviour is a stain on the Australian character and a flagrant disregard of human decency. The Australians who watched the footage of those seething mobs and their sordid behaviour did not recognise their fellow countrymen. I joined with great pride 10,000 Australians at Dover Heights last Wednesday for a Jewish community vigil. The pain of events abroad was palpable as you looked at the audience of people of Jewish faith, people of other faiths, people of no faith, there to provide support to Australians. It was raw, the tears from young girls, from grandmothers, striking. But, most concerning, those Australians of Jewish faith were gathered, and I could see the anxiety in their eyes. I could see that they were frightened.

Australia is not without its anti-Semitic elements. Both sides of politics have fought back against it, as we have every other form of politically motivated violence. But the rally at the Sydney Opera House escalated that anti-Semitism to another level. We have to recognise that because the impact it has had on the Jewish community here in Australia will take a lot to undo. We need to understand that level of anxiety in the Jewish community at present. Jewish parents are concerned about their children wearing their Jewish school uniform in public. In our country Jewish people are apprehensive about their safety when visiting a Jewish supermarket or practising their faith at a synagogue, not because of something they've done or said but because of who they are, because of their faith, because of their heritage, because of their belief. That's the reason they are worried about their children being targeted in indiscriminate attacks, that they might be identified by their school uniform that they wear. That is the sentiment running deep within the Jewish community here in our country today.

The purpose of this statement on this motion before the House is to recognise those dreadful attacks and the impact they're having psychologically on people in our country. Our wonderful Jewish community needs to know that their security is being taken seriously, both at a federal level and at state levels. I support in the strongest possible terms the Prime Minister's announcement during the course of his remarks today of funding to provide support, particularly to the Jewish community, to bolster security, to make sure that those children can go to school safely and that people in places of gathering can do so with safety first and foremost, and the sanctity of their activities is preserved.

Many Australians are passionate about the events abroad because of their past, because of their history, because of existing ties to the Middle East, and we respect every view. But we're Australians first and foremost, and the reason for the success of Australia's social cohesion is our social contract as Australians. Under that social contract we do not allow the problems of other parts of the world to manifest in our communities. We keep resentment and anger at bay through the self-command of our character. Many protesters in recent days have undermined our social contract. I encourage faith and multicultural leaders in Australia to call for calm and especially to condemn any abuse or acts which are an incitement to violence, and many of them, to their great credit, have done exactly that. Some leaders, though, have chosen to remain silent, instead of voicing their disapproval, and their silence is, frankly, contemptible. To any Australian who incites or chooses violence, know that you will face the full force of the law.

Let me reiterate the sentiments I made last week without any hesitation or reservation: people who are non-citizens here in our country on visas and who engaged in vile anti-Semitic behaviour, who are inciting violence or who choose violence, should have their visas cancelled and be properly deported from our country. Had those comments been made abroad, it is clear that a decision-maker within the Department of Home Affairs would not have granted a visa to come to our country in the first place. Why would there be contention about cancelling a visa of a non-citizen conducting themselves in making public commentary about anti-Semitic conduct or behaviour or inciting violence or choosing violence? There should be no doubt about the swift course of action required, and I encourage the Minister for Home Affairs to not hesitate in exercising her powers as needed in our national interest. If we are to maintain the social cohesion for which we are known, then we must have zero tolerance of behaviours which are frankly intolerable.

With Israel undertaking military operations in Gaza in response to Hamas's acts of terrorism, there have been and will continue to be civilian casualties, tragically, on the Palestinian side, and Hamas know that. They knew that there would be retaliation for these grotesque acts of terrorism. They knew that the Israelis would respond and they knew, through their actions, that it would result directly in the loss of the lives of people on the Gaza Strip and elsewhere. Hamas's tactic of using civilian infrastructure as military headquarters, as storage facilities for weapons and as part of battlefield operations speaks to who they are. If we're looking for an equivalence to Hamas, to their culture and to their conduct, we should look no further than ISIS. This parliament's joined together over a long period of time and we've committed troops to parts of the world, including Afghanistan, to fight back against the depravity of ISIS, their treatment of women and young girls and the way in which they have slaughtered people without a single hesitation. Hamas is the equivalence of ISIS.

Israel, of course, is doing its utmost to forewarn civilians and minimise casualties. As the Prime Minister wisely said before, Australians who are in the region should depart if that's appropriate for them in the circumstances. Take the offer if you've asked for it and it's available to you. The situation will clearly deteriorate further. We know that there are some commentators who continue to try and find moral equivalence in the actions of the Israel Defence Forces and Hamas's terrorism. It should be utterly condemned. Australia stood with Ukraine when it was subjected to the barbarity of an invader. Let us today, as a parliament, demonstrate that Australia stands with our longstanding ally, our dedicated partner and our dear friend Israel in the fight against terrorism and in its hour of need. Let us show the Israeli people and Jewish communities here in Australia that they have our support and our solidarity.

Seventy-five years ago, the nation of Israel was born. The Jewish people finally had a place which was theirs. The Jewish story, as we know, is one of every trial and tribulation—of privation, of enslavement, of wandering, of subjugation, persecution and exile, of dispersion, of massacre, of Holocaust, the gassing of six million people. But, most importantly, the Jewish story today is one of survival, and it always will be. It's a story of achievement against adversity and of triumph from tragedy. It's a story which is committed to the collective Jewish memory. It is the Jewish memory of prevailing over tragedy and that Jewish spirit we know so well in many of our friends and fellow Australians which will see Israel again succeed through these darkest of days.

I commend the government for bringing this motion to the House, and I look forward to the contributions on both sides because this is a moment for us to stand with people who have been subjected to the most abhorrent acts at the hands of a terrorist organisation. We stood in this place in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks on the United States. We've stood in this place and we've condemned the terrorist attacks in France, in Germany and elsewhere, and we do that again today.

Photo of Milton DickMilton Dick (Speaker) Share this | | Hansard source

As a mark of respect for all lives lost relating to Hamas's attack on Israel and the ongoing conflict, I ask all present to rise in their places.

Honourable members having stood in their places—

I thank the House.

12:04 pm

Photo of Richard MarlesRichard Marles (Corio, Australian Labor Party, Minister for Defence) Share this | | Hansard source

MARLES (—) (): The last nine days have borne witness to the most desperately sad tragedy—a tragedy for Jews, a tragedy for Muslims, a tragedy for Israel and a tragedy for Palestinians.

The unfolding disaster has been a matter of precise calculation by Hamas. Hamas stands in absolute condemnation. The very nature of terrorism is shocking. It invades normality—such as simply attending to a knock on the front door, leaving your kids at child care or going to a music festival, just as thousands of young people—my kids—do in Australia all the time to have fun, to dance, to enjoy youth. In fact the motivation for those who went to the Supernova festival the weekend before last, to experience friendship and joy and community, could not be further removed from what they then encountered in the face of Hamas: evil, extreme violence and death.

Against the backdrop of the anticipated normal, the reality was so shocking that it robbed everyone, no matter what they are doing, of the ability to feel safe. Of course that is the point. These were innocents, they were not combatants and their deaths are murder. So today we stand with Israel and its people.

Israel is a Liberal democracy. The values of human rights and freedom of speech form the founding ethos of this country. In that, Israel and Australia are alike. But our connection with Israel runs much deeper than that. It was an Australian foreign minister who chaired—who drove—the UN Special Committee on Palestine in 1947 which gave rise to the very creation of Israel. Doc Evatt regarded this as his signature achievement in public life. He was inspired and supported by the Australian Jewish community of the time. Subsequent to these events his role was acknowledged in the naming of the Doc Evatt Room at the National Library of Israel in Jerusalem this week.

What this says is that, from the very beginning of Israel's remarkable journey, Australia was there. This history makes all the more significant the statements of solidarity that we make now in respect of Israel. At the heart of the relationship between Australia and Israel is the Australian Jewish community. Over the course of the last nine days that community—the 10,000 Australians who call Israel home—has been filled with a sense of deep anxiety about the safety and welfare of their family and their friends. We are with them in hoping that those people are alright. We weep for the more than 1,400 innocent Israelis who have lost their lives. Our thoughts are with the thousands who have been injured, and we fervently pray for those who now find themselves in the unspeakable position of being held hostage by Hamas in Gaza.

But we also weep for innocent Palestinians. There are more than two million Palestinians who live in Gaza, and the vast bulk of them have absolutely nothing to do with Hamas. They have been born into a life of trying to fashion a version of happiness, of joy, of hope and aspirations for their children—all compromised by being caught in an enduring conflict which is measured in decades. Hamas does not speak for these people. Hamas has completely undermined the legitimate aspirations of the Palestinian people. Now we are watching Palestinians, in their innocence, die in significant numbers, and we are holding our breath and watching how the coming days and weeks will unfold.

For all of this, we condemn Hamas in the strongest possible terms. Hamas has an ideology of terror, and its acts over the course of the last nine days have been of the most profound evil. Israelis and Palestinians have a right to exist in peace and security. Israel has a right to act in its defence. It has a right to seek the protection and indeed the liberation of its citizens and it has a right to move against Hamas. In that Australia stands with Israel. In the same breath, we add our voice to the international call that the rules of war be respected.

The events in the Middle East are reverberating around the world. They are also reverberating here in Australia. At this moment, it is essential that we are vigilant about the cohesion of our own society. We understand that there is a context in the Middle East. We understand that, over a long period of time, these issues have been complex and that there are people in our country who hold passionate views about them. But there was no excuse for the scenes and the chants that we heard outside the Sydney Opera House last Monday. That was nothing other than ugly anti-Semitism, and it completely diminishes any attempt to advocate on the part of the innocent. There is no place in this country today for anti-Semitism, and there is no place for Islamophobia.

In this moment it is absolutely essential that, as we walk the path forward, we do so with respect for each other as Australians. In doing so, we can find illumination from the Islamic faith itself. When Muslims refer to the prophet Mohammed, they attach a phrase 'Peace be upon him'. They do this to accord the highest respect to the prophet by attaching his name to the word 'peace'. In 2:208 of the holy Koran the prophet Mohammed says, 'Enter absolutely into peace'. Indeed the very word 'Islam' is derived from the word 'peace' in Arabic. Peace is at the heart of Islamic theology, as it is at the heart of Judaism and Christianity. As we watch this misery unfold from afar, peace must be the bedrock of our actions here, and, as we walk the road ahead, peace must be our guiding star.

12:13 pm

Photo of David LittleproudDavid Littleproud (Maranoa, National Party, Shadow Minister for Agriculture) Share this | | Hansard source

On behalf of the Nationals, I stand here united with the government on their important motion. Nine days ago Hamas terrorists unleashed a savage, barbaric, murderous assault on Israel. It was an assault that targeted civilians. It was an assault that has left a scene of unimaginable horror and devastation. It was an assault on the world's only Jewish nation. It was an assault which, in all its twisted and evil depravity, was designed to scar and to traumatise. The scenes were sickening—hundreds of young revellers gunned down in a hailstorm of bullets at a music concert; Israeli children and babies slaughtered, some decapitated, in their beds and cots; grandmothers murdered in their gardens; entire families massacred. It was an attack that left 1,400 Israelis dead, murdered in cold blood by a terrorist movement that is renowned for its violent extremism and poisonous and anti-Semitic ideology. Compounding this sheer horror was the sight of more than 150 civilians who were taken hostage, kidnapped and taken into the Gaza Strip. Through its repugnant beliefs and appalling violence, Hamas presents an existential threat to the state of Israel. Their attack on Israel was a deliberate provocation.

The nightmare unfolded in the early morning of last Saturday as Israelis were wrapping up the seven-day-long Jewish festival of Sukkot. Under the cover of a barrage of more than 2,200 rockets fired indiscriminately at Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, hundreds of Hamas terrorists rampaged into southern Israel. They marched into communities and into kibbutz after kibbutz, opening fire on homes and killing women, children, the elderly and any Israeli they came across. Innocent people were slaughtered in the most atrocious of circumstances imaginable. At the Nova music festival, 260 young people were shot as they fled for their lives. At the Be'eri kibbutz, a small Jewish community, more than 100 residents were killed in their homes, including scores of children. Tragically, it was here that we also lost 66-year-old Gilat Carbone, an Australian grandmother. So the federal National Party condemns in the strongest possible terms this abhorrent terrorist attack by Hamas. Our party stands in unity and in solidarity with the nation of Israel and its people. We always have and we always will.

We must be clear: Israel has every right to defend itself against the appalling threats presented by an ISIS-like organisation like Hamas, which has no regard at all for human life. We know that the recovery and healing process will be long and traumatic for the families who have lost loved ones and the Jewish communities that were destroyed. Shamefully, this atrocity was the biggest mass murder of Jewish civilians since the Holocaust. Savagery of this magnitude must be confronted. As political leaders, all of us in this place must stand on the side of humanity over evil. The National Party is proud to stand with Israel in their battle against terrorism, and once again we extend our sincere sympathies and condolences to our close friend and ally and its people during this difficult time.

I commend the motion to the House.

12:17 pm

Photo of Mark DreyfusMark Dreyfus (Isaacs, Australian Labor Party, Cabinet Secretary) Share this | | Hansard source

Today we mourn the greatest loss of Jewish life in a single day since the Holocaust. Today we mourn more than 1,300 people who have been murdered by Hamas terrorists: hundreds of young Israelis, mercilessly hunted down at a music festival; Israelis murdered in their homes, shot as they answered their front doors; Israelis butchered in their beds; entire families slaughtered in their cars, their kitchens and their living rooms; men, women and children; Jewish men, Jewish women and Jewish children. I am the son of a Holocaust survivor who, as a young boy, was forced to flee his home in 1939 and travel to the other side of the world. His life was at risk because—and only because—he is Jewish. My father and my grandparents escaped. More than six million Jewish men, women and children did not escape. They were murdered by the Nazis and their allies and collaborators for being Jewish.

Antisemitism has been called 'the longest hatred'. The Nazis did not invent it. As the events of the last week have demonstrated all too tragically, antisemitism did not end when the Nazis were defeated. Make no mistake: this was not just an attack on the State of Israel and on the people of Israel. This was an attack on the Jewish people. Over thousands of years, the Jewish community—my community—has survived only because of our unbreakable spirit in the face of horrific prejudice. On many occasions, we have had to face that prejudice alone, but not this time, because this time, unlike so many times in our past, the Jewish community is not alone. As this motion makes clear, Israel is not alone.

Australia's support for Israel is deep and enduring. It is a bond of true friendship which goes back to the founding of modern Israel, when Doc Evatt helped to introduce UN resolution 181, and to when, under Prime Minister Ben Chifley, Australia was the first country to cast a vote in favour of creating the modern state of Israel. In the shadow of the Holocaust, Australia supported the legitimate right and aspiration of the Jewish people to establish a Jewish homeland. Australia unambiguously supports the right of Israel to defend itself today. At the same time the Australian government will continue to support the legitimate rights and aspirations of the Palestinian people. To that end it is the policy of this government, as it has been for Australian governments for many years now, to support a just and enduring two-state solution in which Israel and a future Palestinian state coexist in peace and security within internationally recognised borders.

This is an aspiration shared by many Israelis and by many Palestinian. But let's be clear about something: Hamas does not share this aspiration; Hamas has never shared this aspiration. Hamas has always worked to undermine those who strive for peace, whether they be Israeli or Palestinian, because Hamas has no interest in making peace with Israel. As the founding charter of Hamas declares, its aim is to obliterate Israel. Today, more than 75 years since Australia supported the creation of the modern state of Israel, my message is simple: the Australian government stands as one with Israel and the people of Israel against Hamas and its supporters. Australia stands as one with the Jewish community, and we always will.

12:21 pm

Photo of Adam BandtAdam Bandt (Melbourne, Australian Greens) Share this | | Hansard source

There is no place for antisemitism in Australia or in this parliament. I think I speak on behalf of everyone in saying that the vile antisemitic comments that we have heard from some in the community and also the attacks of Hamas on innocent civilians which constitute war crimes are to be condemned. It is also contemptible to hear an attempt in this chamber early today from the Leader of the Opposition to try and weaponise it by suggesting that somehow someone in the government condoned any of those remarks. That is beneath contempt. It is beneath contempt on what should be a motion that is about expressing support for people who are on the receiving end of hate, and there is no place for antisemitism and no place for Islamophobia in this country. We can have a debate in this place about the looming invasion and the need to fight for peace without the Leader of the Opposition falsely accusing people I might have a difference of opinion with, but I can bet my bottom dollar none of them back the vile antisemitic comments that we have heard. It is beneath contempt for the Leader of the Opposition to try and use this motion to prosecute that agenda.

There were some other people who gathered over the weekend in their thousands across the country to say that not only is there no place for antisemitism in Australia but there is no place for Islamophobia and that the war on Gaza must stop. Thousands of people gathered together peacefully across the country to make the point that we are on the verge of a humanitarian disaster becoming a humanitarian catastrophe. With a ground invasion of Gaza looming, it is disappointing to say the least that this motion moved by the government backs that invasion. There is much to be supported in this motion. The Greens join in condemning the attacks on innocent civilians and call for the hostages to be freed and for the perpetrators of these war crimes to be held to account. We join with everyone in this place and say there is no place for antisemitism and Islamophobia. There is much that we could support, but, on the eve of a looming invasion that is likely to be not just a humanitarian catastrophe but a war crime, Australia cannot stay silent and back that invasion.

There are about 2.3 million people in Gaza crammed into an area about half the size of the ACT. In many respects, Gaza is a walled-in primary school, with 40 per cent of the population under 15 years old. Their area has been blockaded now for many years, but, in the heartbreaking words of the United Nations Refugee Agency:

Not one drop of water, not one grain of wheat, not a liter of fuel has been allowed in the Gaza Strip for the last eight days.

Raise the alarm that as of today, my UNRWA colleagues in Gaza can no longer provide humanitarian assistance as I speak.

The UN has also said that the directions being given by the Israeli military for evacuation orders in hospitals in northern Gaza are 'a death sentence' for everyone within them, because there is nowhere for these people to go. It has also been pointed out by Amnesty and the UN and others that these orders to evacuate are not in compliance with international law. The Red Cross has been reportedly saying that there has been deliberate shelling of health facilities, and that amounts to a collective punishment of the Palestinian people for something that they are not responsible for.

This looming humanitarian catastrophe is something that Australia should be joining other countries in trying everything we can to stop. We join with everyone in this parliament in mourning the 1,300 Israelis who have lost their lives, but on today's count there are also between 2,300 and 2,600 Palestinians who have lost their lives, many of who are children. And we mourn them as well. This is now moving beyond self-defence into an invasion, and it is up to Australia as a peace-loving country to join the push to stop it.

No to antisemitism, no to Islamophobia and no to the war on Gaza. We stand with all of those people in Australia and around the world who want just and lasting peace and security for everyone in Israel and Palestine. And that means ending the occupation and developing a just and lasting peace, but it also means putting our efforts into an immediate cease fire of all parties and a stopping of the war and the invasion. Not only will it bring about a humanitarian catastrophe and be a likely war crime; we've got to think about what the consequences will be for the region of an invasion of an area that's occupied territory in breach of international law when we know what the other actors in that area are like. We have to push for peace.

It is really only paragraph (2) in the government's motion that stands in the way of us supporting it. It reads, in part, like a motion that was drafted some time ago and does not take account of the fact that we are on the eve of an invasion of this territory that not only is going to create a humanitarian catastrophe but is going to make life less safe for people living in Israel and people living in Palestine. So I move that the motion be amended as follows:

Omit paragraph (2), substitute:

(2) condemns war crimes perpetrated by the state of Israel, including the bombing of Palestinian civilians, and calls for an immediate ceasefire between all parties and an end to the war on Gaza, recognising also that for there to be peace there must be an end to the state of Israel's illegal occupation of the Palestinian Territories;

I am proud to be standing with those Jews, Palestinians and supporters in Australia who are saying it is time to push for a just and lasting peace. We can condemn atrocities and war crimes, but that does not justify an invasion where there are 2.2 million people, 40 per cent of whom are children, who have nowhere to go. The direction for them to leave their homes so that bombing can take place is unlawful, the United Nations has said, and there is nowhere for them to go. They are walled in. That, amongst other reasons, is why an invasion is not only wrong; it is going to lead to humanitarian catastrophe. So I urge the government to reconsider that part of their motion that gives tacit support to that invasion and instead to adopt a pathway forward for peace.

There are millions of people around this country and around the world who want that and who know that this is the opportunity not to call for escalation of the conflict and to back an invasion but instead to call for peace so that we can mourn those who've died and, hopefully, not add to their numbers in the thousands, as an invasion is going to lead to.

Photo of Milton DickMilton Dick (Speaker) Share this | | Hansard source

Is the amendment seconded?

Photo of Elizabeth Watson-BrownElizabeth Watson-Brown (Ryan, Australian Greens) Share this | | Hansard source

I second the amendment and reserve my right to speak.

12:31 pm

Photo of Mr Tony BurkeMr Tony Burke (Watson, Australian Labor Party, Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations) Share this | | Hansard source

None of us wanted to be in a parliament for a resolution in a moment in history like this. I join with all members in the condemnation of the actions of Hamas, condemnation of indiscriminate killing, condemnation of the targeting of civilians, condemnation of the taking of hostages and condemnation of what has been described accurately as the greatest loss of Jewish life in a single day since the Holocaust. I add to the view which I think the first time I saw put in these terms was by the joint statement from President Biden and a number of other world leaders, where they referred to the actions of Hamas not only as being horrific in their immediacy and as being tragic in the outcome for everybody they came near but also as being contrary to the legitimate aspirations of the Palestinian people.

There are legitimate aspirations for the Palestinian people. It's legitimate to want to live freely: free of occupation, free of endless checkpoints, free of a legal system which differs in the different ways that military courts do. All of that is further away now—further away than it was two weeks ago It is much, much further. The actions of Hamas have caused carnage across the Israeli community and, similarly, have provided no assistance whatsoever to Palestinians. It's important, when we talk about actions, that we don't fall into games of false equivalence. It's also important, though, that, when innocent life is lost, we mourn innocent life regardless of who it is. We mourn deaths of families wiped out, mourn grandparents brutally slain, mourn babies who had decades of life ahead of them that have been taken, and there are examples of those both Israeli and Palestinian. We need to mourn all of them.

There are Australians grieving for people on either side of the border, and all of those Australians who are grieving the loss of innocent life have a right to know that the parliament grieves with them, grieves for the deaths: the deaths that are known, the deaths where people are still waiting for confirmation and inevitably the deaths where confirmation will never come, where a life that was known is just never reported back again.

There is also the ongoing grief for loss which is not loss of life but is the permanent loss to people through all the fear which lies ahead. There is the fear of something as joyous as a music festival being something where people will feel they cannot relax; the fear of something as routine as attendance at a pizza shop; the fear of being confronted at a checkpoint; and the fear of sleeping and not knowing whether, by the time morning comes, a bomb may have struck or a knock on the door may have come saying that your home is to be demolished. There is the base fear of the constant risk of terrorism and the base fear of living with a seemingly endless occupation. All of those fears are something now that will last longer as a result of what has just occurred.

The resolution in front of us calls for the upholding of international law. It is calling for the upholding of all international law: international law against the targeting of civilians; international law against the taking of hostages; and international law against collective punishment. But I want to say something quite specific about hate speech. A few people, not many, were aware of the state of my health last week, which meant that my public commentary was very limited and that when comments were eventually given to the media late in the week they were not published. Allow me to take this chance to be quite unequivocal: statements of hate speech, some of which were given in my part of Sydney and some of which were given elsewhere, are all unacceptable and are all to be condemned. There is no place for hate speech in Australia.

I was particularly devastated that one of those comments was made along the pathway where my community had conducted the Walk for Respect. My community has actually been at the centre—at the absolute centre—of opposing any weakening of our hate speech laws. In my community, Jews, Muslims, Christians, Buddhists, Hindus and people of no faith at all walked together against hate speech—against all forms of hate speech. They were against racist hate speech, against antisemitism and against Islamophobia. Anyone who in years gone past has argued that we should weaken our laws against hate speech was wrong then, and anyone now who engages in hate speech, thinking that it's only words, is wrong!

We must not pretend, though, that the minority engaging in hate speech is somehow representative of us as a nation or of any group as a community. It is incredibly important in how we respect and debate each other, and how we regard which words are truly representative of communities and which words are not, that we don't pretend that the sections of hate are bigger in Australia than they are. But, to the extent that they are there, we must fight them and fight them hard. When our fellow Australians mourn, when our fellow Australians fear and when our fellow Australians hope, we need to stand with them.

12:38 pm

Photo of Sussan LeySussan Ley (Farrer, Liberal Party, Shadow Minister for Women) Share this | | Hansard source

I rise to support this bipartisan motion on Israel, and I commend the fine words of both the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition.

On Saturday 7 October, the Jewish people suffered their worst day since the Holocaust. The merciless killing of more than 1,300 people at the hands of Hamas was barbaric. The atrocities committed were war crimes: elderly women with dementia taken hostage, soldiers beheaded and babies burned alive. These sick acts of depravity have no place in our world, but take place they did. So today as a country and a parliament we unequivocally say two things: we stand with people of Jewish faith in this country and abroad, side by side, as you experience the most difficult period of your lives, and we stand against these acts of terror perpetrated by Hamas and support Israel taking the strongest possible action to ensure this can never happen again.

After the Holocaust, the world said to the Jewish people, 'Never again'—never again would people of Jewish faith be murdered because of their religious beliefs, never again would the scale of that suffering be repeated and never again would the world stand by and allow such atrocities to occur. But on Saturday 7 October, 'never again' did happen again, and it is on that basis that we stand as one in this parliament in support of the United States and with the rest of our allies to pledge our full support to the people of Israel.

Last week I attended a vigil in the Sydney's eastern suburbs, joining with 7,000 people to pay respects and mourn with the Jewish community. I was pleased to stand with colleagues from across parties and parliaments. It's important we speak with one voice on this. At the vigil, I met Itsik Sabug. Itsik is a proud Australian of Israeli descent. Like so many people of the Jewish faith in our country, he migrated to Australia from Israel. Itsik's nephew, Ziv Shapira, who's still in Israel, went to that now infamous music festival. All Ziv wanted to do was have a good time; all he wanted to do was catch up with his friends. He wanted to enjoy the party, have a dance and have fun. Ziv was only 26 years old. Ziv never came home from that music festival—lost to his parents, lost to Itsik and lost to his friends forever. This is just one story of thousands, just one anecdote of so many in our Jewish community.

There is unimaginable pain for so many people in our country—pain we seek to soothe as a united parliament, pain we seek to soothe as a united people but pain that for many was compounded as a result of the disgraceful scenes we saw at Sydney's Opera House last week. We should never be in a situation in our great country where we rightly make a significant symbolic gesture to support a group of people facing trauma, only to then have such a failure in administration that this gesture backfires and further upsets them. I pay tribute to the New South Wales Premier, Chris Minns, for apologising to the Jewish community. He gave a fine speech at the vigil in Dover Heights.

But it is a timely reminder of just how deeply antisemitism does run across the world and even in sections of our country. We must wrap our arms around the Jewish community. We must remind them that we condemn and reject these abhorrent views. Seeing a mob chant 'gas the Jews' and 'burn the Jews' days after the Jewish people experienced their worst tragedy since the Holocaust is one of the worst things I have seen in this country. We must learn from this as national leaders. We must understand the depth of hatred that Jews face and commit to addressing it.

In the coming days and weeks I look forward to visiting more Jewish communities around the country. It's important that they know their national leaders support them, are listening and will act. If the Jewish community needs more funding for security upgrades, then that is what governments must deliver. If the Jewish community is telling us that some parents don't feel it's safe to send kids to school, then we need to listen, act and assure them of that safety. It's important they know where we stand locally and internationally in support of them. Every parliamentarian must denounce all acts of hate speech and antisemitism towards the Jewish people in Australia and around the world.

Of course we condemn the barbaric, violent and unprovoked terrorist attack by Hamas on the people of Israel. Of course we condemn the murder, rape and hostage-taking of innocent civilians, including babies, children, women and the elderly. Of course we support the state of Israel's right to self-defence in taking action to respond to these terror attacks by Hamas, including eradicating Hamas from Gaza and dismantling the capability of Hamas to conduct terrorist attacks on the people of Israel in the future. And of course we will support the work of recognised international aid agencies to provide humanitarian assistance and protection wherever possible to all innocent civilians caught in any ensuing conflict.

Less than a year ago I travelled to Israel and the UAE with the member for Berowra as part of a study tour. Less than a year ago I was standing on those same streets in Sderot where, just last week, so many civilians were gunned down in cold blood. As I said a few weeks ago before these atrocities occurred: 'Seeing bomb shelters in the middle of kids' playgrounds is terrifying; it is sobering. It gives us pause to try to reflect on how we would feel if we had to deal with that reality in Australia. Seeing the Hezbollah flag flying high mere metres from the Israeli border; reaching to the top of the Golan Heights, and being guided through the areas so many hostile forces routinely occupy; learning how, in Sderot, communities are surrounded by makeshift bomb shelters because of what they face so frequently. This is the only way someone can properly appreciate the real and pressing threat the people of Israel face every single day.'

Israel faces these threats directly because of the Islamic Republic of Iran. Iran is funding, training and arming a whole ecosystem of terrorist organisations, including Hamas. The sole desire of Iran is to destroy the Jewish State of Israel. There's no deal to be done here. They unashamedly want to see Jewish people die and the State of Israel cease to exist. There can be no accommodation here and no compromise with Iran. They are the biggest threat to peace and order in the Middle East. The landmark Abraham Accords were changing, and can continue to change, the Middle East region for the better, and that's why Iran is so hell-bent on destroying them and stopping further agreements. The coalition stands in complete unity with the United States of America in warning Iran of the consequences should they seek any further involvement in this war. We must acknowledge that the acts of barbarity perpetrated by Hamas and the terror group's ongoing use of more than 100 innocent Israelis, including babies and children, as human shields have irrevocably changed the region. We must also reassure the Palestinians that condemning this terrorist group and its terrorist activities—the worst the world has seen since 9/11—should not, and cannot, be taken as any negative expression against the Palestinian people, with whom I have had a long and enduring friendship and connection.

I want to make one final point. In the days and weeks ahead, Israel has rightly stated they will have no choice but to launch a very forceful response, seeking to ensure these atrocities can never occur again. Unfortunately for Hamas, civilians are always collateral damage in their quest to advance their terrorism. As civilians suffer, we must remember that this is because of one thing and one thing only: the actions of Hamas. We must stand resolutely with Israel as they respond forcibly, because the Hamas-Iran joint propaganda machine will be seeking to persuade the world that they are the victims. We must ignore that propaganda and stay strident in our support for the Jewish people, and we must all remember that their actions in the coming days and weeks are in self-defence of their people and their country. For decades now, whenever Israel has been forced to respond in situations such as these, some have been very quick to hold Israel to a standard they themselves would never meet. It forced former Israeli prime minister Golda Meir to once remark:

If we have to have a choice between being dead and pitied, and being alive with a bad image, we'd rather be alive and have the bad image.

I say clearly: Israel have a good image, and they are alive. They have a good image because they are a good people and a good country. They are alive because, as we have seen for literally thousands of years of history, no matter what tragedy befalls the Jewish people, the Jewish people live and the Jewish state lives. Israel lives.

12:48 pm

Photo of Josh BurnsJosh Burns (Macnamara, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

On Simchat Torah, a Jewish festival of celebration on Saturday 7 October 2023, more Jewish lives were taken on that single day than any other since 1945. It was a day of disbelief, of devastation and of panic for loved ones. My community were frantically messaging their family and friends, writing messages like: 'Are you safe? Are you okay?' The bonds between Australia's Jewish people and the people of Israel run deep. They are bonds of family and friendship. My community is feeling the devastation of seeing their brothers and sisters being terrorised in the most graphic and gruesome fashion. Yet, in all of the carnage, I witnessed humanity rise to surface. I witnessed people light up the darkness. The community came together in prayer, in solidarity and in immense sadness. We mourned with each other. We sought to comfort each other and to love one another, to help get through the collective grief that each and every single person is carrying. In that spirit of humanity, I extend my deepest sympathies to the families of those who were brutally murdered just over one week ago: to the Israelis, the Americans, the Thais, the Australians, the Kiwis, the Germans, the French, the Italians, the Bedouins and many more families who lost loved ones on that day.

Let me also take this moment to extend my deepest sympathies to the families of innocent Palestinians. I recognise your grief and I see your heartache. The humanity we share cannot be lost. We witnessed what happens when humanity is lost. It looks like the heinous acts of terror perpetrated by Hamas. These attacks were barbaric, abhorrent and totally unjustifiable. They were carried out by terrorists who have shown complete disregard for human life: the children, the women, the elderly people, just going about their day. I dream of seeing peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians. I dream of two peoples living side by side, and that dream feels further away than ever. The true tragedy of Hamas's terror is that it was specifically designed to further divide our two peoples and to fuel this conflict. Hamas sought to indiscriminately terrorise civilians, only then to cower behind them, putting innocent people in harm's way. They are the instigator, and they continue to fire indiscriminate rockets towards civilians. Up to 150 innocent civilians have been kidnapped and taken into Gaza. The violence and terror continue. The extent of the death toll is hard to comprehend.

Many of us remember with horror the Bali bombings of 2002 when terrorists killed 202 people, of which 88 were Australians. Yet the rising death toll of this terror attack is more than 1,300 people. Australia has consistently stood against terrorism, and today we reaffirm our unwavering commitment to that cause. If these were Australians, what would we do? If Australian kids had been gunned down at a music festival, what would we do? If Australian babies and women and elderly people were brutally butchered in their own homes, what would we do? I know this conflict is complex—the deep history—but this week the world has seen the enormous threat to the Israeli people. Israel does not just have a right to exist; it has an obligation to protect its citizens, just as Australia does. If this attack had happened to Australia, Australians would be demanding this parliament act in a way that ensured this terror could not happen again.

The story of the Jewish people is one of extraordinary courage and resilience, but this week my community has faced a reality beyond our worst nightmares. We witnessed devastation in Israel only to be confronted with scenes at home in support of the perpetrators. Less than 24 hours after the attack, as the body count was rising, people gathered at our country's most iconic landmark, the Sydney Opera House, and chanted antisemitic slurs echoing the worst of the Holocaust. We have seen flags burnt, Nazi salutes on Melbourne trains and a stream of online abuse with justifications of the murder of innocent Jewish lives. My community is heartbroken; my people are suffering. Trying to reconcile the atrocities overseas and the scenes at home, it makes the resolute support that I and the Jewish community have received from colleagues in this parliament so meaningful. On Wednesday the Minister for Foreign Affairs spoke at the Australia Israel Chamber of Commerce. She made a speech in support of Israel that was strong and heartfelt. On Thursday the Prime Minister came to my electorate, to the St Kilda synagogue, where he met with leaders and members of the Jewish community. He spoke movingly of his support for Israel and our community. I can tell the House that the Jewish community deeply appreciated his words, just as they've deeply appreciated the words of people right across the political aisle.

I want to thank the leaders of this place for their unwavering support and solidarity. I want to acknowledge people across the parliament who are hurting, including my friend the member for Berowra. I also acknowledge my state Liberal colleague David Southwick, who has stood united with me as we work to support our people in this time. We gather today to stand in solidarity with the people of Israel from within the Australian parliament, just as we stood with them as we cast the first vote in 1947 to help establish the state of Israel after witnessing the darkest chapter in human history. We must stand against terrorism, against antisemitism and against hatred in all its forms. The people of Israel, the Palestinian people and indeed all humanity deserve nothing less.

I will finish with a prayer that is said by Jewish people during the daily prayers. Its underlying translation asks for one thing above all: that, for Israel, for the Jewish people and for the entire world, there should be peace. Oseh shalom bimromav, hu ya-aseh shalom aleinu, v-al kol Yisrael, v-imru amen.

12:55 pm

Photo of Scott MorrisonScott Morrison (Cook, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

After a week that saw the greatest loss of Jewish lives since the Holocaust, Jews gathered at the Central Synagogue in Bondi Junction for Shabbat services, just as Jews have gathered for Shabbat services for centuries. On this particular evening, though, there was a special poignancy to their gathering, as they came together to console, support and encourage others. As the women lit their candles in hope and we gathered for the Shabbat service, which Jenny and I were pleased to attend along with the current member for Wentworth and the former member for Wentworth Dave Sharma, Rabbi Levi said, 'Am Yisrael Chai.' The people of Israel live on. It was a statement of resilience. It was a statement of faith. It was a statement of hope. If there's one thing I have learnt in my long association with the Jewish community, it is that they are a people of endurance, resilience and hope, even in the most awful circumstances, which they have experienced this past week.

I'm pleased to stand in support of this bipartisan motion and to stand here in support of the people of Israel and the state of Israel. I stand here and condemn the barbaric, violent and unprovoked terrorist attack by Hamas on the people of Israel on 7 October and the murder, the beheading, the rape and the hostage-taking of innocent civilians, including babies, children, women and the elderly. We express our deepest sympathy and deep condolences to members of this place, to people all around our country, to the state of Israel, Prime Minister Netanyahu and all of his people and to the Jewish community here in Australia through Ambassador Amir Maimon, who I spoke to, as we denounce these terrible acts.

These terrorist acts have been rightly identified as terrorist acts. To speak of this as a war is to somehow risk legitimising the other combatant for which there can be no legitimacy whatsoever. They are terrorists. As Prime Minister I was pleased that we listed in full Hamas as a terrorist organisation as well as Hezbollah and many others, because that is indeed what they are. As we gather in this place and rightly denounce and condemn these acts, I hope it will not fade from our memory quickly or ever, because that is too often the case.

I remember, as the member for Berowra will remember, back in December 2018, the UN General Assembly considered a resolution condemning Hamas for repeatedly firing rockets into Israel and for inciting violence, thereby putting civilians at risk, and for its use of resources in Gaza to construct military infrastructure, including tunnels to infiltrate Israel and equipment to launch rockets into civilian areas. It specified that further engagement by the UN Secretary-General and the UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, in efforts to de-escalate the situation in Gaza, was also needed. I instructed that we would support that motion in condemning Hamas. A procedural vote was held before that main vote on the resolution, calling for the main resolution to be decided on a two-thirds majority. It was passed in that chamber, narrowing the odds of the resolution passing successfully. Although 87 voted in favour, including Australia, a majority either voted against or abstained, meaning that the resolution failed under the ruling. Before the vote, the US permanent representative to the UN said that, despite more than 500 General Assembly resolutions condemning Israel at the United Nations, not one had condemned Hamas—not one.

As we stand in this place, appalled, aggrieved and with our hearts breaking, we should not be surprised by this barbarous violence from such a group. They should never have been given the leave pass of legitimacy that they experienced for so long from the international community. They should have always been condemned, and may they forever be condemned. So we stand here and say we will support the State of Israel's right to self-defence—as we should in this motion—in taking action to respond to these terror acts, but let us know that this should and must include all efforts to eradicate Hamas from Gaza and dismantling the capability of Hamas to conduct terrorist attacks on the people and State of Israel in the future. In the weeks and the months ahead, let our resolve not diminish. Let our eyes not turn away from what we say today, as we continue to support the State of Israel's legitimate right to defend itself and remove that ever-present threat that has stood there each and every day, threatening their citizens as they go about their peaceful lives.

I join the Deputy Leader of the Opposition in saying that we as Australia should call on the Islamic Republic of Iran to cease its funding, training and arming of terrorist organisations that include Hamas. We cannot look away from the support that Hamas has received from Iran. It is an abomination. They are the funders of this terrible violence. If they approved it, we will not know. Hamas, of its own accord, is capable of engaging in such violent barbarism all of its own making, but its ability to do so could not have occurred without the training, funding and assistance provided by Iran.

As we say in the motion, we must also support the work of humanitarian assistance and the humanitarian corridors to call for the immediate and unconditional release of the hostages, to enable safe passage and to prevent innocent civilians being further caught in what will be an ensuing conflict, which I fear will be quite awful.

I particularly commend the consular work being undertaken by DFAT officials and the bravery they've shown on so many occasions. I recall the bravery they showed as they went into Wuhan at the outset of the COVID crisis, and here they are again, assisting Australians. I thank Qantas for their work, once again, coming to Australians' aid.

We should also be looking ahead and working to support other international organisations in dialogue so that, once order is restored to Gaza, there be the transfer of administrative authority over the Gaza Strip to a credible and competent Palestinian led authority. We must acknowledge and continue to encourage and support the progress being made towards peace in the Middle East through the establishment of the Abraham Accords, whose work should not be frustrated or delayed by these actions. Of course, we reaffirm our support for the establishment of a viable and sustainable two-state solution in Israel and the Palestinian territories, behind recognised international borders.

On this day, as we stand in this place, let us be clear. Let us say, with Rabbi Levi and all the people of the Jewish community here in Australia and around the world, 'Am Yisrael chai.'

1:04 pm

Photo of Ed HusicEd Husic (Chifley, Australian Labor Party, Minister for Industry and Science) Share this | | Hansard source

Anyone with a surname like mine carries a legacy, genetic and historic. They come from a part of the world—it once had a name, Yugoslavia—where people of different faiths and ethnicities were as tight as brothers and sisters. They shared all the special religious and personal events and they sang songs together about a country that was outside of an anthem. It was truly a special bond. Then, in a matter of years, that bond disappeared and the most depraved acts occurred between people who had said that they loved each other like brothers and sisters.

I know the impact of hate and the way it tears apart societies; I've carried that since my 20s. There are a lot of people who have seen similar episodes in different parts of the world. It comes to the fore at moments like this and hate drives people to do the most barbaric of actions. That hate-propelling violence is something that we all must not only recoil from; we have to act against it.

Like many people the world over, we've been aghast at what we saw in Israel on 7 October. It was an absolute abomination. Hamas must be, and is rightly being, condemned. The way in which they targeted infants, women and the elderly was on the basis of their faith, and so many Jewish people lost their lives in a way that was completely and utterly unacceptable. We feel deeply for them and we grieve with Israelis the world over who are feeling this deeply. All the hostages must absolutely be released without condition.

I also acknowledge that any government that is confronted with these acts within its own borders will respond. They have to respond. They have to hold Hamas to account, and that will happen. Too many Israelis and Palestinians have, since 7 October, paid an utterly horrific price, and I'm deeply concerned about what will happen from here. I also think deeply about what will happen in Gaza, where two million people are crammed in. There'll be a lot of innocent Palestinians who will pay a price for the actions of Hamas.

I restate this: Hamas must absolutely be held to account. Innocent Palestinians should be protected. They should be given passage. They should be able to get out of harm's way. They should be preserved as well, in the sense of not being targeted.

I think about what we can do in regard to something that is so far away. A simple and powerful proposition is to always be conscious of the humanity of others. I recognise—I think any student of history recognises—that there have been moments in time where the violent refusal to recognise the humanity of others has written the worst chapters of humanity. Specifically, in those moments when I think of my friends in the Jewish community and the intergenerational trauma created by the Holocaust, I remember what has driven that.

I think of many shared meals, from Shabbat to iftar, and I think of the bonds that are being created through those moments. I know it's very hard. Those warm memories will be pressed to the deepest recesses of minds. They will be moved out by the memories that are being created or may be made in the coming weeks. But being conscious of humanity will be an important way in which we preserve what we value most in this country. It should be at the front line of our fight against antisemitism and Islamophobia. It has been at the heart of the work of people like the member for Cowan, who sits behind me. I thank her deeply for what she has done in taking up the fight against extremism and the way in which it tears communities apart.

On these points—and I'm very grateful to have been able to express a few remarks in this very important debate we are having—not all Israelis are Jewish and not all Palestinians are Muslim, but everyone is feeling a dread at the moment. Regardless of your faith or ethnicity, all Israelis and Palestinians are absolutely entitled to the right to a future, free from the weight of fear. They should be able to build better lives for themselves and do what everyone of us who are parents want: to build a better life for the ones that follow. They should be able to do it within the state of Israel, and they should be able to do it in a state of Palestine. I thank the House.

1:10 pm

Photo of Julian LeeserJulian Leeser (Berowra, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

Members of the House have visited Jewish community centres and synagogues and schools during their service in this place. Inevitably members have to pass through a security station and often wonder why there's security. After all, this is Australia. This is Australia. We're one of the few nations on earth that has never had any formal discrimination against Jewish people, and I honour that history. Yet, even with that history, Jewish Australians have felt the pain of the murder of Jews in Israel. Hamas attacks in Israel have reminded Jews across the world that in each generation we face those who seek to exterminate Jewish people from the face of the earth. Events in Israel have brought that long history that silently lives in our DNA and our memory as a people back to life.

Whilst our own sense of decency and humanity instinctively turns us away from looking at the depravity, we must not turn away—depravity that saw whole families murdered together in their homes; babies captured, caged and killed; young women sexually assaulted in the streets; a grandmother murdered, and images of her body uploaded to her own social media page; hundreds of young people at a music festival to celebrate peace mowed down by terrorists in body armour and brandishing AK-47s. Not all were Israelis. The murdered and missing included people from 43 nations around the world. One hundred and fifty people were dragged from their homes and kidnapped, one of whom was an elderly Holocaust survivor. With 1,300 dead, in a matter of hours there was the greatest loss of Jewish life in a single day since the Holocaust. History repeats itself again—another time and another evil group who seek nothing less than the extermination of the Jewish people from Israel and, if they could have their way, from the entire earth.

I appreciate the serious work being undertaken to bring home the Australians who want to come home. I commend all who are burning the midnight oil to get this done safely and quickly.

I also believe we must use this moment to reconsider our diplomatic relationship with Iran. Iran oppresses its people. Iran exports terror and has aided and supported terrorist organisations such as Hamas for far too long. I do not believe it is in our national interest to have diplomatic relations with a country that seeks to export terror throughout the world.

May I say a few words about the response in our country. It has been simultaneously wonderful and troubling. We have an expression in Hebrew: Kol Yisrael Arevim Zeh bah Zeh. Loosely translated it means 'All the people of Israel take care of each other'. But, in this instance, we've seen not just the people of Israel taking care of each other but the people of goodwill of Australia taking care of each other. I want to put on record my thanks to the people who've sent emails, reached out with messages of goodwill, and the social media posts of people standing with Israel.

Like many people in this House, over the last few weeks I've been occupied with prepoll. What was lovely at the prepoll is that it didn't matter what side of the debate people were on; volunteers, members of the community, came up to me and shook my hand and hugged me and said: 'We stand with you, Julian. We stand with the people of Israel and the Jewish people at this time.' There was the beautiful gesture from Susan and the people of St Stephen's Normanhurst, who dropped flowers at my office, not sure of what to do or how to express their support and their feelings about the actions in Israel.

There were other actions that troubled me and troubled Jewish Australians and Australians of goodwill, and that was the public emergence of an awful form of antisemitism. What happened in our greatest city, Sydney, was nothing short of appalling. I never could have imagined a day when Jewish people in Sydney would be told by the police that the streets were not safe, nor indeed that the same police would arrest a man carrying an Israeli flag while giving an escort to the steps of the Opera House to antisemites celebrating the work of a listed terrorist organisation—which we in Australia have listed—murdering Jewish innocents. Nor could I have imagined that antisemites would light flares and chant, 'Gas the Jews!' on the steps of Australia's greatest cultural symbol while the police watched on—'Gas the Jews! Kill the Jews!' at the Sydney Opera House in 2023! These people should be prosecuted for inciting the murder of their fellow Australians and, if possible, removed from our community.

More broadly, we need a serious debate about antisemitism. Antisemitism is always accompanied by an indifference to antisemitism. In too many places in the political sphere and the social sphere, the brutal terrorist acts were met with statements of false equivalence—as if innocent Jewish people had brought these murders on themselves. We've all heard this script before: so many of these people lecture us incessantly about tolerance and hate speech; inclusion and racism; and indifference to violence against women. But they've shown that none of their beliefs apply to Jews: the Jewish people are the asterisk where it doesn't apply. This moral equivalence is a failure of moral compass. The indifference of these people and their disregard for their fellow Australians has been on display over the past week, and I have to say that it has been particularly evident in some of the statements by members of the Greens party at the state and federal level.

Sadly, antisemitism in Australia is not uncommon: unfortunately, I experience it regularly. The member for Wentworth, the member for Macnamara and I co-chair the Parliamentary Friends of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance, opposing antisemitism. Let me let the House in on our work. Unfortunately, the places where antisemitism is alive and well are on the many campuses of our country. There are too many Quisling leaders on our campuses who do not have the strength to stop antisemitism and who refuse to adopt the IHRA definition of antisemitism. Many refuse to define antisemitism and they think we're making it up! It's festering, and we saw it on the streets of Sydney.

This is a trying time for Jewish people around the world and here in Australia. I draw strength from the many non-Jewish people around the country who are reaching out to stand with the Jewish people at this time. And I draw strength from the broad primary support for this motion. I believe in what we call the vast middle of this country: good, fair, decent people who stand against evil. I draw strength from what Rabbi Jonathan Sacks said of the Jewish people, 'They are the voice of hope in the conversation of humankind.' He said:

Our ability to survive some of the worst tragedies any people has known without losing our faith in life itself; to suffer and yet rebuild; to lose and yet recreate; to honour the past without being held captive by the past—all of which are embodied today in the State of Israel, living symbol of the power of hope—are vitally important not just to ourselves but to the world.

Israel is the only democracy in the Middle East. It's a country that shares the values of Australia: a belief in the rule of law and democracy, and respect for human rights. It's one of the few places in the Middle East where not only Jews but Christians and Muslims can practice their faith freely. Australia and Israel share values and an outlook on the world. Australia must stand with the people of Israel and it is right that Australia does so.

Photo of Milton DickMilton Dick (Speaker) Share this | | Hansard source

The question is that the amendment moved by the honourable member for Melbourne be agreed to.

1:35 pm

Photo of Milton DickMilton Dick (Speaker) Share this | | Hansard source

The question is that the motion moved by the Prime Minister be agreed to.

A division having been called and the bells having been rung—

As there are fewer than five members on this side for the ayes in this division, I declare the question negatived in accordance with standing order 127. The names of those members who are in the minority will be recorded in the Votes and Proceedings. I understand the members for Clark, Mackellar and North Sydney wish to be recorded as in favour of the motion.

Photo of Julian LeeserJulian Leeser (Berowra, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

Mr Speaker, on a point of order: I ask that those who voted on this side of the House on the motion may also have their names recorded against it. I think it would be good to see a departure from the normal standing orders, if there's the prospect of that.

Photo of Milton DickMilton Dick (Speaker) Share this | | Hansard source

Since the member has requested that the names be recorded, I will require a count for that purpose.

Photo of Mr Tony BurkeMr Tony Burke (Watson, Australian Labor Party, Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations) Share this | | Hansard source

Point of order, Mr Speaker: given this procedure is not used often and it was a one-minute division, could I ask that the doors be opened again for a further one minute and then the full count be done, simply because it's often the case that members don't come in for a one-minute division if they weren't already here.

Photo of Milton DickMilton Dick (Speaker) Share this | | Hansard source

I think, in light of this motion and the fact that that request has been made, I'll recommit the motion and request that the bells be rung for four minutes to enable all members to participate in the division. The question is that the motion moved by the Prime Minister be agreed to.

A division having been called and the bells having been rung—

As there are fewer than five members on the side of the noes in this division, I declare the question resolved in the affirmative in accordance with standing order 127. The names of those members who are in the minority will be recorded in the Votes and Proceedings, as will those who are voting in favour of the motion. To assist the tellers, the member for Parkes is also appointed, alongside the member for Werriwa and the member for Bean.

Question agreed to.