But one thing that hasn’t changed has been our longstanding respect for the values of the state of Israel and the Israeli people. They are a beacon of liberal democracy in the Middle East like no other, and today’s announcements by the Prime Minister reaffirm that relationship.
Mr LEESER (Berowra) (14:41): My question is to the Minister for Defence. Will the minister update the House on how the government is strengthening Australia’s national security through building strong international relationships, particularly with the state of Israel? What are the risks and what is at stake if the government doesn’t prioritise our national security?
Mr PYNE (Sturt—Minister for Defence and Leader of the House) (14:41): I thank the member for Berowra for his question. In the 24 years since I first visited Israel, our relationship with Israel has grown stronger and stronger. As I was actually the minister at the time, we put our first innovation landing pad in Tel Aviv.
A government member interjecting—
Mr PYNE: Yes, I was. We now have a regular two-star defence dialogue with Israel, which I initiated in the portfolio. In July, I held the first Australia-Israel Defence Industry Cooperation Joint Working Group and, as the Leader of the Opposition pointed out, yes, I actually initiated that as well. And we have genuine defence industry partnerships with companies like Elbit, IAI, Rafael—which has just created an Australian subsidiary here called Varley Rafael, which would be well known to people in the Newcastle area—and of course Plasan. So we have put a lot of effort into that relationship over the last quarter of a century. It has been getting better and better.
But one thing that hasn’t changed has been our longstanding respect for the values of the state of Israel and the Israeli people. They are a beacon of liberal democracy in the Middle East like no other, and today’s announcements by the Prime Minister reaffirm that relationship. It’s very important to think of what is at risk if a Liberal-National government is not re-elected at the election next year? If a Liberal-National government were not in power, Australia would not be open to a discussion about where our embassy should be in Israel. If a Liberal-National government were not in power, we would not be reconsidering our support for the JCPOA Iran nuclear deal. If a Liberal-National government were not in power, Australia would not be announcing reciprocal defence attaches in Tel Aviv and in Canberra. That’s the reality of democracy.
This side of the House knows its view on Israel and national security. Those on the other side of the House have subcontracted their views on national security out to the Liberal and National parties. They keep claiming bipartisanship on national security. What is their position on the announcements we have made today? What is Labor’s position on the announcements that we have made today to strengthen our relationship with Israel? The truth is Labor is riven by division over Israel. Bob Carr and the New South Wales Labor Party have taken control of the agenda on Israel inside the Labor Party, and it’s time for the Leader of the Opposition to stand up and support the government’s announcements that we made today.