When people look for a definition of overreach, they will search for this motion that’s been moved by the Leader of the Opposition. There is no issue too big for him to show how small he is. The weaponisation of, or attempt to weaponise, antisemitism in this chamber to make it a partisan issue is frankly beyond contempt. I spoke in this chamber on Monday about the events in Caulfield and about the events in the eastern suburbs of Sydney. There was no qualification whatsoever in my condemnation. I’ve spoken since to people, including the Israeli ambassador and, this morning, Jillian Segal. Moshe Kahn, the rabbi from that community in Balaklava in the electorate of Macnamara, sent me a message saying, ‘Thank you for speaking out so clearly and so unequivocally.’
Mr ALBANESE (Grayndler—Prime Minister) (14:49): When people look for a definition of overreach, they will search for this motion that’s been moved by the Leader of the Opposition. There is no issue too big for him to show how small he is. The weaponisation of, or attempt to weaponise, antisemitism in this chamber to make it a partisan issue is frankly beyond contempt. I spoke in this chamber on Monday about the events in Caulfield and about the events in the eastern suburbs of Sydney. There was no qualification whatsoever in my condemnation. I’ve spoken since to people, including the Israeli ambassador and, this morning, Jillian Segal. Moshe Kahn, the rabbi from that community in Balaklava in the electorate of Macnamara, sent me a message saying, ‘Thank you for speaking out so clearly and so unequivocally.’
So to come in here, move this motion and link antisemitism with the decision of the High Court is beyond contempt. This is the same political party that tried to repeal section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act, and I stood with Peter Wertheim and other members of the Jewish community at that time. The Executive Council of Australian Jewry said:
That would be the worst possible message to send at a time of increasing fear, insecurity and polarisation. It would be a serious abrogation of principled leadership by government.
And indeed it was, which is why it was defeated. They failed to deliver the religious discrimination bill they moved in here, and, when an amendment was passed to carry antivilification provisions, they voted against it and trashed their own legislation before it was passed.
I make no apologies for standing up against antisemitism, and I will do it unequivocally as I have, as someone who led a campaign against a council my own electorate, against the BDS campaign—two decades ago, I think. I have a track record on this and I’m proud of it, but I also have a track record of standing up for the rights of and justice for Palestinian people. I make no apologies for being a consistent supporter of a two-state solution. I make no apologies for trying to bring communities together, not divide them, because that’s the role of political leaders. At a time when there is social division, leaders have a choice. They have a choice to either bring people together or divide them, to look for unity or look for opportunism. And what we have seen from this bloke here is consistent with his entire political career. It has been based upon division.
Jewish Australians are fearful at the moment. The sort of activity that is occurring is scaring them, and I stand with them. No-one should threaten people because of their religion or their race in this country. But it is also the case that Arab Australians, Islamic Australians and women wearing hijabs in the streets of Sydney and Melbourne are being threatened, and I stand against that as well. The idea of selective human rights is one that I stand against. I’m opposed to any innocent life being lost, whether it be as a result of the terrorism of Hamas in Israel—those dreadful occasions. I’m against innocent babies being killed in Gaza. We have responsibilities, as a democratic nation, to say that democratic nations must stand up, consistent with the international rule of law. That is something I have done and will consistently do. That’s something I will have meetings on at APEC, in San Francisco. I stand up for Israel’s right to defend itself. I’ve done that consistently. I also say that how Israel does it matters. And I say that we need to care for all civilians.
We then have, somehow, a link between that issue and the issue of the High Court decision—a High Court decision that, in the words of the Leader of the Opposition himself, having been responsible for these issues for six years, went on 2GB yesterday and said:
I’m not going to comment on individual cases because in some of those cases, I will have been a decision maker, and in relation to that case, I believe that I was. So, if the matters go to the Court again, I don’t want to interfere or taint that process.
Opposition members interjecting—
The SPEAKER: Order! The member for Groom will cease interjecting. Members on my left! The member for Bowman!
Mr ALBANESE: He stood up here and said we should have prevented people from being released—prevented a High Court decision. He stood in here, day after day, week after week, month after month and said: ‘You’ve got to respect the Constitution. You can’t change the Constitution, because if you do, you can’t out-legislate it.’ That’s what he said. That’s what they all said in justifying their ‘no’ vote, day after day and week after week.
This is what he said in May, in this chamber, ‘The parliament cannot out-legislate the Constitution.’ But, when it’s convenient, just chuck it out and pretend it doesn’t exist. They were responsible for a decade. The legislation that’s been thrown out by the High Court was coalition legislation.
Opposition members interjecting—
The SPEAKER: The members for Bowman and Groom are now warned.
Mr ALBANESE: Then they say there’s no responsibility. The opportunism of the Leader of the Opposition has been exposed for all to see here today, but I didn’t think he could go so low as to try to link these two issues. Then, just to get another crack in the tabloids or to get a ‘hear, hear’ from Sky After Dark, he tries to link it with whether or not we should be represented at APEC. APEC has been there for 30 years. For thirty years, every prime minister, since APEC’s creation by Paul Keating as a leaders’ summit, has represented Australia.
Mr Tehan interjecting—
The SPEAKER: The member for Wannon will cease interjecting.
Mr ALBANESE: The only time that has not occurred is when Prime Minister Gillard had to return to Australia after a tragedy in her family, so she returned early. John Howard represented Australia every time. Coalition prime ministers represented Australia every time. But that is not okay. They do that, while, at the same time, he leads a party who had a shadow ministry meeting, almost, over there in London, at their talkfest: Taylor, Morrison, Price, Pike, Antic, Joyce, Paterson, Tehan, Webster, Canavan, Hastie—
The SPEAKER: Order! The Prime Minister will use the correct titles for members.
Mr ALBANESE: In an article titled ‘Tony Abbott and John Howard join Jordan Peterson-led group looking at “meaning of life”‘, it was exposed that they were paid for by foreign billionaire hedge fund managers—12 of them! The fact is that one in four Australian jobs depends upon our trade. I make no apologies for re-engaging and fixing some of the problems that we were left with. This is why we’re dealing with supply chain issues, and it’s why, with trade, we see the impediments in China being removed and it’s why I will meet with President Biden, President Xi, Prime Minister Trudeau and Prime Minister Kishida—and all the meetings that have been scheduled over one day.
The fact is that this motion has been brought forward because this Leader of the Opposition is incapable of saying anything positive— (Time expired)
Government members interjecting—
The SPEAKER: Order, members on my right! The time for this matter has expired. The question is that the motion moved by the Leader of the Opposition be agreed to.