Senator Amanda Stoker – responding to comments by Labor Senator Kristina Keneally, conflating anti-Israel positions with anti-Semitism

photo of Senator Amanda Stoker
July 31, 2019

Did Senator Keneally ever condemn the two local councils of Marrickville and Leichhardt for their anti-Semitic, anti-Israel stances?

Full speech

Senator STOKER (Queensland) (19:20): I rise to speak in this adjournment debate to respond to some comments made about me in this chamber by Senator Keneally and others in the last day, which, if they were made outside of this chamber, would have been no less than defamatory. It was about my scheduled talk at the CPAC conference, which, if anyone is interested at all, is on the important theme of improving our economic productivity—hardly, I’d suggest, a topic that is about to stir race riots.

While I don’t know all of the speakers who will be on at CPAC, I’m proud to be sharing the stage with some people of enormous calibre: former Prime Minister John Anderson, who I deeply respect; Jacinta Nampijinpa Price; and Janet Albrechtsen. They’re just a few names in a long list of very credible people. It’s action packed, and, I confess, I don’t know everyone, but I look forward to meeting them.

Jacinta has advised me that her talk will centre around her experiences of being an Indigenous conservative in a politically correct world. Warren Mundine will be talking about reform in Indigenous affairs. Both Jacinta and Warren have valid viewpoints on their topics, and I respect them both deeply. But again, it’s hardly the stuff of tear gas and rubber bullets.

I want to respond to the insinuation from Senator Keneally that I endorse the comments made by Raheem Kassam. They’re not comments I’d ever make, and nor do I endorse them. They’re crass, and they’re stupid for a grown man to make, but, let’s be clear, they’re not dangerous. I’m told he has apologised for them. Regardless, they’re wrong. Had Mr Kassam threatened the safety of someone, I might be as alarmed as Senator Keneally, but, to call for him to be banned from this country for being an idiot—well, we’d never see an English football or cricket supporter ever enter this country again. Through you, Acting Deputy President Senator Faruqi, does Senator Keneally feel her opinions are so soft, her world view so fragile, that she could not withstand or argue against opinions with which she does not agree?

There’s an elitist attitude that there is never any wrong in the Labor Party. We all know Senator Keneally started her career in New South Wales in the Labor Party prior to entering the Senate. Senator Keneally sat in the same party room as Eddie Obeid and Ian Macdonald, both of whom we know went to prison for their corruption, and Joe Tripodi too. Indeed, she wouldn’t have ever been a leader without her good old mate Eddie. She is a member of the branch of the Labor Party which produced Luke Foley. He lost the leadership over being a bit inappropriately handsy with an ABC journalist. Could the senator express her views on that particular incident? After all, she was Foley’s boss for a while there. Senator Keneally also sat in the same party room as Mr Daley, who made remarks shortly before the NSW election this year which The Sydney Morning Herald labelled as racist. They said:

Let’s not tiptoe—Daley’s comment that “our young children” were being “replaced by young people from typically Asia with PhDs” was racist.

Does Senator Keneally now not attend functions when these people are present? Does she avoid Labor conferences when she knows they’ll be there? Did Senator Keneally ever condemn the two local councils of Marrickville and Leichhardt for their anti-Semitic, anti-Israel stances? Did Senator Keneally ever ask Joe Tripodi about his treatment of women, in particular the one that accused him of sexually assaulting her in his office in the year 2000? Did she ever apply the same standard to members of her own party, the people who endorsed her as a senator, that she is now applying to Raheem Kassam? Will she be delivering similarly impassioned, self-righteous speeches about them in the chamber? I won’t hold my breath. Senator Keneally has had, in her career, many opportunities to hold her party to a higher standard, and she has failed time after time after time.

As for my attendance at CPAC, I won’t be asking Senator Keneally for permission to attend this forum. If we’re doing our job properly as politicians, we should be talking to people from all walks of life, every day, and of course we won’t agree with them all the time. That’s exactly how it should be. I’m sure Senator Keneally doesn’t endorse what he said. I’ll give her the benefit of the doubt that she’d never give me. But to try and shame me into not attending a conference of many educated and thoughtful individuals— (Time expired)

Link to parliamentary Hansard