Adam Bandt MP – seeking to move a motion calling on the Government to “end its support for the State of Israel’s invasion of Gaza”

photo of Adam Bandt MP
March 18, 2024

This parliament must stop backing the invasion of Gaza. Labor must stop backing the invasion of Gaza. As we meet today, over 31,000 people in Gaza, mainly civilians, have been killed. That includes over 13,000 children.

Mr BANDT (MelbourneLeader of the Australian Greens) (12:06): I move:

That so much of the standing and sessional orders be suspended as would prevent the Member for Melbourne from moving the following motion immediately—That the House:

(1) notes that since the House resolution of 16 October 2023 concerning Israel and Gaza, which supported the State of Israel’s looming invasion of Gaza by stating that the House ‘stands with Israel’, the following have occurred:

(a) an appalling and increasing toll of deaths and injuries caused by the State of Israel’s bombing and invasion of Gaza;

(b) a growing humanitarian catastrophe caused by the State of Israel’s blockade, bombing and invasion of Gaza; and

(c) the State of Israel is the subject of recent International Court of Justice orders in South Africa’s case regarding the prevention of genocide;

(2) therefore does not support the State of Israel’s continued invasion of Gaza and calls for an immediate and permanent ceasefire; and

(3) calls on the Australian Government to end its support for the State of Israel’s invasion of Gaza.

This parliament must stop backing the invasion of Gaza. Labor must stop backing the invasion of Gaza. As we meet today, over 31,000 people in Gaza, mainly civilians, have been killed. That includes over 13,000 children. Thirteen thousand children have been killed since the Labor backed invasion of Gaza began. Estimates are that between one and two million people have been displaced out of a population of 2.2 million. Half of the homes in Gaza have been destroyed, meaning there is nowhere for people to go, and, of course, the borders remain shut so people cannot get out. Children are now starving. They are dehydrating. Women are giving birth without any kind of painkillers or other assistance. The health system is on the brink of collapse and, in parts of Gaza, has collapsed. A hundred thousand people plus are dead, wounded or missing.

Since this parliament met and Labor and the Liberals backed the invasion, the population of Gaza have been herded south. They were told to move south by the Israeli military because they were told that the north was going to be bombed, and it has been bombed. It has been levelled. Now there are reports that the military is building a road from east to west to further partition Gaza in the way that it has done with parts of the West Bank, and there is nothing in the north for people to go back to. They’ve been herded into what has been described as the world’s largest refugee camp, in Rafah, where there are over 1½ million people.

Now, since the Greens last tried to reverse Labor’s support for this invasion, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu has said they are going to invade Rafah. Even as others offer plaintive pleas to please not do it, from people including our Prime Minister and the United States President, nonetheless Prime Minister Netanyahu comes out again and again and says: ‘We’re going to do it. We’re going to keep doing it.’ It is crystal clear now that this invasion that Labor continues to back is not only a humanitarian catastrophe but a war crime that is resulting in the mass slaughter of tens of thousands of children and civilians, and it is getting worse.

It is not just the unbelievably catastrophic death toll, which is a result of this invasion that everyone could see coming, but also the utter collapse of civil society and the health system within Gaza, which is leading to aid agencies warning of widespread famine and disease that is about to hit. They are telling us and everyone around the world that they cannot get the aid in that is needed. They cannot get it in, because it is being blockaded by the Israeli military and the Israeli government at the borders. Since we were last here in parliament, we have witnessed people who were lining up to get flour and the basics of life get killed when the Israeli military opened fire. They have been killed as they lined up to get the most basic items of life. Children in Gaza are now eating so-called ‘bread’ made out of animal food. Mothers are fronting up to seek medical help with children dying in their arms because they are not getting enough to eat. And aid is getting stalled at the border as part of this invasion. The Israeli government, which Labor continues to back, is not even letting aid in.

When this issue first came before parliament, we said very clearly, ‘You cannot back the invasion of 2.2 million people walled into an area half the size of the ACT—where 40 per cent of them are under the age of 15—without a humanitarian catastrophe and mass slaughter unfolding.’ Tragically, what we said back in October is now happening day after day, and it is getting worse. This extreme right-wing war cabinet that Prime Minister Netanyahu has set up is not listening to the plaintive pleas and weasel words of governments like Australia, especially when the Labor government keeps backing military exports to Israel and refuses to join the majority of the world’s countries in calling for a permanent and immediate ceasefire—not some humanitarian pause that means the Gazans can be fed before they get shot at again, but a full, immediate and permanent ceasefire. That is now what a majority of the Australian people want.

What we have seen is that the pressure from the Australian people is working. It has meant that the government has reversed its shameful decision to cut funding to UNRWA, the body that is delivering aid to people. Our Labor government shamefully cut their funding, and public pressure has reversed that decision that never should have been taken in the first place. It is time now to listen to what the people of this country and people right around the world are saying. It is time to call for an immediate and permanent ceasefire and to stop backing the invasion.

Last time this debate happened, we saw some utter furphies and red herrings put up by the government and others. They said, ‘Well, you can’t support this motion because it doesn’t mention the hostages and it doesn’t mention the other attacks on civilians that happened on 7 October.’ Let’s be crystal clear about this: this parliament has already made its view clear about that. There is unanimous agreement to call for the immediate release of the hostages, and there has been unanimous condemnation of attacks on civilians. Everyone has done that. That is not a reason not to vote for this motion, because that will stand on the parliament’s record and enjoy the unanimous support of people here.

What this motion is about is one thing and one thing only: knowing that over 30,000 people have been killed and 100,000 people have been killed, are missing or are injured, whether you still continue to back the invasion of Gaza. That is what this motion is about, and this is a moment for everyone in this parliament, knowing what has unfolded since 7 October and seeing the devastating toll it is taking on civilians, to decide whether you still back the invasion or not. Even if you have a different view to what I do and to what the Greens do about this being the time to start putting sanctions on this extreme war cabinet of Prime Minister Netanyahu’s and to stop arming Israel, even if you have different views about those things and even if you think the invasion was justified back then, there is no justification for continuing to back the slaughter of thousands of people who are walled in to an area half the size of Canberra with nowhere to go.

When Prime Minister Netanyahu says, ‘I’m going to invade Rafah no matter what you say,’ now is the time to say, unequivocally, ‘We’re going to stop backing the invasion.’ This is the time for every member of parliament to make their vote count. Everyone in this country will be watching. Which members of parliament have the courage to line up and say, ‘It is time to stop the invasion, and it is time for a full, permanent and immediate ceasefire’?

The DEPUTY SPEAKER ( Mr Vasta ): Is the motion seconded?

Link to Parliamentary Hansard