We have been very consistent about our concern about the loss of innocent lives—Israelis and Palestinians. Every innocent life matters. What we saw last night in Melbourne at a hotel in Docklands goes beyond the right of people to peacefully protest in our democratic country. Why people would make the conscious decision to hold a protest where the families of these people were staying is beyond my comprehension and beyond contempt.
Mr BURNS (Macnamara) (15:18): My question is to the Prime Minister. How has the Australian government supported the release of hostages kidnapped by Hamas?
Mr ALBANESE (Grayndler—Prime Minister) (15:19): I thank the member for Macnamara for his question and his strong advocacy for the people of his electorate. The Australian government has called consistently, unequivocally, for the release of all hostages taken on 7 October during Hamas’s terrorist attack on Israel. Earlier this week, the Israeli ambassador, Amir Maimon, brought a delegation of Israeli citizens to Parliament House, and I, along with the Deputy Prime Minister and the foreign minister, met with them in my office. These are people who are doing it incredibly tough but who were here, having lost loved ones who were either murdered or kidnapped. One of the people who we met was a young woman, Mika. She’s 18. She spoke about her brother, Amit, who’s 16. It is good news that, since we met, Amit has been one of the hostages released.
We have been very consistent about our concern about the loss of innocent lives—Israelis and Palestinians. Every innocent life matters. What we saw last night in Melbourne at a hotel in Docklands goes beyond the right of people to peacefully protest in our democratic country. Why people would make the conscious decision to hold a protest where the families of these people were staying is beyond my comprehension and beyond contempt. I’m appalled by the actions of these protestors, and I condemn them. This does nothing to advance the cause of the Palestinian people. It does nothing to advance justice for Palestinians or peace in the region. My government supports a two-state solution in the region in the interests of Palestinians and Israelis. At the moment, what we are seeing is humanity cast aside. There is no excuse, no circumstance, where people should organise a demonstration against grieving families—none. I call it out, and I express on behalf of the Australian government our regret.
To those families who we met with: this is not the Australian way. These are people like Tali Kizhner. She lost her son, Segev. We had a very respectful private conversation with all of the families. It was captured at the beginning that they just wanted to tell their stories.
I’ve also had discussions with Palestinians who have lost their family members during this conflict. It’s awful. People need to really think about where we are as a nation. We are a successful multicultural nation. There is no place in this country to try to bring conflict in that sort of way through that sort of action here in Australia. Regardless of what views people might have about international politics, we should be respectful. We should have compassion. We should understand that people are hurting. Australians of different backgrounds and different faiths are hurting at the moment. I say that we need to bear that in mind. I spoke on the evening I was elected about kindness. This country could do with a bit more kindness and a complete rejection of any action that targets people who are going through such a difficult time.
Mr DUTTON (Dickson—Leader of the Opposition) (15:24): on indulgence—I want to start by thanking the member for Macnamara for not just the question but also his actions. I saw him recently at the opening of the Holocaust museum in Melbourne, and, like many members of the Jewish community, he has been astounded and in disbelief as to some of the scenes. The Prime Minister has detailed the latest episode of that. So I pay credit to him for the leadership he has offered the community.
It is an act of depravity, and it is an act that is rightly condemned. I hope that these organisers and those who are responsible and others who are like-minded hear a very definite voice from this parliament—from the Prime Minister, from myself and from all members—that we condemn those actions. The fact is that people were taken, people were slaughtered, people have been held captive, people have been tortured, raped and murdered and, somehow, people have seen fit to occupy a hotel lobby or to maintain a presence where they think they can intimidate the families of those victims. The Prime Minister is exactly right to say that it has no place in our country whatsoever. I hope that the police and other authorities can take whatever is available to them under the law to deal with it, because it is a completely and utterly depraved act. The concentration of people’s thoughts now should be on getting those who remain in captivity, who are still held hostage, released and returned to their families so that some peace, civility and stability can be restored to the region. The reality is that these are acts of depraved terrorist organisations, listed and prescribed as such in this country. From day 1, October 7, the actions of those individuals and their supporters, including, unfortunately, in our country, as we’ve just evidenced, stand to be absolutely condemned by all Australians.
Mr Albanese: I ask that further questions be placed on the Notice Paper.