Senate debates

Tuesday, 17 October 2023



9:37 pm

Photo of Wendy AskewWendy Askew (Tasmania, Liberal Party) Share this | Hansard source

I rise tonight to make a brief contribution in support of the motion regarding the Hamas attacks on Israel and the ongoing conflict that is affecting thousands of people, noting also that I do not support the amendment moved by the Australian Greens. I thank so many of my colleagues in this place for their heartfelt and significant contributions to this debate. The widespread condemnation expressed within the Australian parliament must provide comfort to the Israeli families living here in Australia who are worried about their family and friends living through the dreadful atrocities in their homeland.

We have all watched in horror as this conflict unfolds, seeing the disturbing death toll rising each day and knowing that this is a chilling act of terrorism perpetuated by an evil organisation. The shocking images I have seen on television and the abhorrent acts I've read about in the past 10 days are incredibly distressing. However, this situation also has personal meaning for me. I have friends who have been working tirelessly in Israel to help those impacted by these Hamas attacks. On the one hand I am proud to see them providing support to those in need at this terrible time but on the other hand I just want to know that they're safe and that no harm will come to them—that they too will be able to return safely to their families here in Australia in the future. This sad dichotomy has arisen due to these inhumane acts that no-one should endure.

Let me be clear: I do not support terrorism in any form, which is exactly what these attacks are. There is no justification for the brutality that Hamas has committed against innocent people, including Australians. Forcing people to live in fear like this is reprehensible. I do support Israel's right to defend itself against such an act of terrorism. As a citizen of a country where we enjoy democratic freedoms not permitted by the likes of Hamas, I stand with the coalition and the Australian government in supporting Israel's efforts to protect its population against such acts. Israel, our parliament stands with you against this atrocity.

In acknowledging Israel has the right to defend itself against such terrorism, the coalition recognises it is fitting that Israel should act against the direct and violent threat to its people. Hamas presents such a threat to Israel's people, but it also presents a threat to democracy as we know and understand it. Hamas should not hold a position of power or influence. If this region is to know peace, Hamas must be disabled from any ability to continue its acts of terrorism. The former coalition government, of which I was part, recognised Hamas as a terrorist organisation, which its members have only confirmed by perpetuating these attacks on innocent people. Other countries have recognised this too, and we stand with Israel against Hamas.

We know Israel's battle against Hamas's evil power will be a very hard road. We know these latest attacks are part of a long history of terrorism. We want all Israelis to know that they do not walk this road alone and that Australia continues to support Israel in its battles against these evil acts. My heart goes out to all affected by this extreme act of terrorism. So many innocent people have lost their lives, lost loved ones or been injured and uprooted from their homes during these attacks. I cannot imagine the horror and fear they have felt and are still experiencing as this war continues.

In closing, I repeat the following from Senator Birmingham's contribution in this place yesterday:

We as nations, Australia and Israel, are more inclusive, compassionate and successful societies than any governed by Hamas or its supporters such as Iran. That is why, at this historical turning point of Hamas's evil acts of war against Israel, we stand with our Israeli and Jewish friends, together and resolute in defence of Israel.


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