Senate debates

Tuesday, 17 October 2023



8:30 pm

Photo of Jonathon DuniamJonathon Duniam (Tasmania, Liberal Party, Shadow Minister for Environment, Fisheries and Forestry) Share this | Hansard source

Words are inadequate to respond to the atrocities, the horror and the acts of terrorism we've seen in recent days in Israel. I join with colleagues in condemning these attacks by Hamas. I join in condemning the callous disregard for life and the brutal, bloody murder of the elderly, of women, of children and of babies, all inflicted by Hamas.

As a father of three young men, nothing drove fear or anger, sadness and a sense of sickness into my heart more than the abominable treatment of the most innocent people in society—babies and children. Upon seeing the footage of the young boy encircled by Hamas terrorists being taunted while he cried out for his mother made it clear exactly what was going on here and who was perpetrating wrong.

At that moment, I wanted to rush to be with my boys, to hold them tight. The idea or the fear of anything happening to them was just incomprehensible to me. Anyone in our country—our country of peace, our country of safety and our country of democracy—who did not see that or anything like it and cry for the atrocities being perpetrated and condemn them defies humanity.

Similarly, our response as Australians and how we support the Jewish-Australian community is equally important. Standing in solidarity with the Jewish community is something I do proudly and without hesitation. Speaking today with the President of the Hobart Synagogue, Jeff Schneider, he expressed to me why that support is so critical and so necessary. In Tasmania, like so many other parts of the country and, indeed, the world, there's a fear in the community. Anything that could give rise to further tensions, particularly anti-Semitism, must be stamped out and, indeed, condemned immediately, which is why I despair at recent events in this parliament.

It was just yesterday, in the other place, we witnessed something that goes against everything I've just said and goes against the Australian spirit, in my view. The Leader of the Greens political party in this place, supported by teal Independents, and, indeed, Mr Andrew Wilkie, the member for Clark in Tasmania, moved to condemn Israel in the wake of acts of terror perpetrated by Hamas unto Israel. It defies logic and humanity. Israeli babies were beheaded, Israeli children were raped and tortured and some in this parliament seek to condemn Israel.

To seek to draw some equivalence between acts of terror by Hamas with the acts of defence of Israel is wrong. There is no comparison. This moral relativism to justify acts of terror is an insidious and dangerous way of thinking. I say those members responsible for and supportive of this stunt should explain to not only the Jewish community why their actions were justified but they need to speak to the rest of Australia as well. What we do here matters, and we're accountable for it. So I call on Mr Wilkie to front up in Hobart and explain to the Jewish community and to the Clark electorate why he did what he did and why he thought he was right to do so.

I know, as I said, having spoken to Mr Schneider from the Hobart Synagogue, he and his community will be seeking answers, and they deserve answers from their representative in this place. But I do say, for the majority in this place—and I stand alongside them—that we stand with Jewish Australians and supporters of Israel. We are with you in the need for justice to be done.


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