Prime Minister Scott Morrison – spoke out against questions raised by Bill Shorten on the topic of moving Australia’s embassy to Jerusalem

photo of Scott Morrison MP
October 16, 2018

So the Leader of the Opposition can come to the despatch box and he can beat his chest, but what he can’t do is say that he supports the announcements that I’ve made today. He cannot say that. He is not open to the question of whether we could recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

Full speech

Mr SHORTEN (MaribyrnongLeader of the Opposition) (14:52): My question is to the Prime Minister. The Secretary of DFAT has said that the US decision to move its embassy to Jerusalem had not been helpful and had made what was already a very, very difficult process even harder. Why is the Prime Minister ignoring the view of Australia’s top diplomat and making up foreign policy on the run? Does the Prime Minister seriously expect anyone to believe that this stunt was about anything other than Wentworth? Is he really so desperate that he will say and do anything to save Wentworth, including overturning 70 years of bipartisan foreign policy— (Time expired)

Mr MORRISON (CookPrime Minister) (14:52): The Leader of the Opposition is not being truthful with the House. It is true that, for decades and decades, the Australian Jewish community could trust the Labor Party when it came to support for Israel.

Mr Dreyfus: And they still can.

Mr MORRISON: That cannot be said anymore. There is not a bipartisan position on these issues anymore. The former Premier, Bob Carr, has ripped that up—

Mr Dreyfus interjecting

The SPEAKER: The member for Isaacs has been warned.

Mr MORRISON: and anyone who lives in New South Wales knows that very, very well. The former Premier of New South Wales, and his advocacy inside the New South Wales Labor Party, has torn up any bipartisanship between this side of the House and the other side of the House when it comes to these essential questions. So the Leader of the Opposition can come to the despatch box and he can beat his chest, but what he can’t do is say that he supports the announcements that I’ve made today. He cannot say that. He is not open to the question of whether we could recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. He is not open to the question of ensuring that we review our position on the Iran nuclear deal. He is not open to the question of voting no on the question of Palestine taking up the chair of the G77. These are not the positions of the Labor Party, but they are the positions of our government.

I table for the benefit of the House an excellent article which has been written by Dave Sharma, who was Australia’s ambassador to Israel—not a passing commentator on this topic but someone who was appointed to that job by the Labor Party when they were in government. And I table for their benefit the article which he wrote back in May. In that article he puts forward the argument—which I think is a persuasive one—that pursuing that agenda is consistent with a two-state solution and it can be pursued on that basis. And so we can have a commitment to that important principle which Australia, I think, will never move away from and our government will never move away from, but we need to be addressing this issue in different ways.

Now, the comments made by the secretary of the department were made in relation to the decision made by the United States. A decision made by the United States is different to a decision taken by Australia on these matters. We have taken this decision independently to be open to these questions. I have had no discussions with the President of the United States or with their officials on this issue. This is a matter that we have considered ourselves.

Now, I went to Israel with the Leader of the Labor Party. I seem to remember what I learnt there. He seems to have forgotten. (Time expired)

The SPEAKER: The Leader of the Opposition?

Mr Shorten: I just seek leave to table the remarks of the DFAT secretary, Frances Adamson.

Leave not granted.

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