Tuesday, 17 October 2023
I rise to unequivocally support this motion before the Senate. The terrorist attacks on the people of Israel by the terrorist group Hamas are murderous, abhorrent and the embodiment of evil. I condemn Hamas in the strongest possible terms. There is no justification, no excuse, nothing to justify this slaughter which began on 7 October and continues. This could be a long war. Let us hope and pray that good triumphs over evil as soon as possible.
Israel not only has a right to defend itself and protect its people, innocent men, women, grandparents, children and babies; it has an obligation. Hamas is a genocidal terrorist organisation. It poses a threat to the entire world. The coalition supports Israel's right to do what is necessary with every asset available to safeguard its sovereignty, bolster its borders, protect its people and thwart threats it now faces.
The words which describe the worst crimes imaginable committed by Hamas terrorists are difficult to read, let alone speak: the cold-blooded murder of young Israelis attending a music festival; the beheading of babies; the kidnapping and torture of families; the slaughter of a young girl in front of her parents and younger brother and sister. The video of the sobbing Israeli father who said the death of his daughter Emily was a blessing compared with the inhumane and depraved torture and brutality she faced at the hands of Hamas if she had remained alive is just heartbreaking. I also condemn Hamas' acts of inhumanity which have prevented the people of Gaza from fleeing to safety. These innocent Palestinians have been used as nothing more than human shields. Hamas is responsible for all deaths in what is becoming a full-blown war.
At this most difficult time, words matter. This motion sends the strongest of messages to the world that we stand shoulder to shoulder with the people of Israel and with the Jewish community here in Australia. This motion is in contrast to attempts by the Greens, along with the members for Mackellar and North Sydney in the other place, to amend the motion in the other place so as to condemn Israel for committing war crimes. There is no moral equivalence between the evil acts of Hamas and the right of Israel to defend itself in accordance with international law.
In Lakemba and at the Sydney Opera House, Australians witnessed scenes of protesters celebrating Hamas—vile antisemitic behaviour, celebrations of evil and cold-blooded murder. As the Leader of the Opposition, Mr Dutton, has so powerfully argued, people who are non-citizens on visas and who are engaged in vile antisemitic behaviour, who are inciting violence or who choose violence, should have their visas cancelled and be promptly deported from our country. There must be the most serious consequences for this hateful criminal speech, which includes sickening, vile chants of 'gas the Jews'. As the shadow minister for education, I place on record my deep concern for the safety and security of Jewish students and their families, Jewish students who attend schools and universities, and for the safety and security of the families of children who attend Jewish childcare centres.
The recent Australian Jewish university experience survey found that 64 per cent of Jewish students have experienced at least one incident of antisemitism during their time at university, with 88 per cent of those students experiencing antisemitism in the past 12 months. According to the survey, more than half of Jewish students have hidden their identity on campus to avoid antisemitism, with many students avoiding campus altogether. We already have an entrenched dire situation on Australian university campuses, and that is now much worse.
Last week a group of students gathered at Sydney university displaying signs claiming that Palestinians are right to resist and that Australia and the United States were backers of Israeli terror. I'm advised that Jewish students complained to the university campus security office and were told no action would be taken. This is completely unacceptable.
There have been other incidents that have given rise to Australian Jewish families not feeling that it's safe for their children to attend a Jewish school, to wear the uniform of their school or to wear dress that indicates their religion. This is completely unacceptable. Every Australian has a right to feel safe in their own country.
I have written a number of letters to the Minister for Education raising my concerns about the protection of Jewish students. I am very pleased with the minister's response, including the measures the government is taking. I do appreciate that the government has provided additional money for the Securing Faith-Based Places program. The delivery of this program is being fast-tracked. I trust that funding for security measures for Jewish educational institutions, along with university campuses facing particular safety challenges, can be prioritised as a matter of urgency. I join with all senators in this place in saying that we stand shoulder to shoulder with the people of Israel and with the Jewish Australian community.