Senator Cory Bernardi – praises Anning for moving the motion to strengthen oversight on Australian aid to Palestine

photo of Cory Bernardi MP
June 27, 2018

Senator Anning, good on you for bringing this forward and good on you for raising, I think, a very difficult issue. It’s one that you’ve had to suspend standing orders in this place to have your voice heard on. Equally, I recognise why some people don’t want this to take place, but I do think it is an appropriate place to have a discussion about what is going on in our world around us and what is being sanctioned, aided and abetted not only by our aid money but by Australian donations from individuals who are sympathetic to these causes.

Full speech

Senator BERNARDI (South Australia) (16:43): In contributing on this suspension motion by Senator Anning, I would like to endorse some elements of this motion, because I think we have a serious issue where aid money or donations or contributions of any description are going into an organisation and then flowing on to those who are committing acts of terror or are being incentivised to do so. Having been to Israel and met with representatives of the Palestinian media authority, having heard and learnt for myself about the stadiums that are named after people who have blown themselves up—that the size of the stadium is determined by how many people have been killed in their attacks—having heard that their children are named after terrorism and that families are supported financially, I think there is a very good case that we should cease funding organisations and governments if they are sanctioning or condoning this type of behaviour. Every single thing that I’ve observed, both personally and in a professional capacity from other sources, reinforces that this is going on. I note that no-one is really denying—maybe someone will later in this contribution—the reality of what we’re confronting. I note that Senator Leyonhjelm, yesterday, put on the record that those in the Palestinian Authority were elected to four-year terms and are serving their 11th year of those first terms. It is not consistent with our values or our principles or our objectives as a civil society.

There are those of you who believe that Palestine should exist and should be a separate state and a nation, but that is quite separate to what is being considered here. Senator Anning is, I think, very right to put this on the agenda. I also understand the contentious nature of it. Governments don’t want to wade into these sorts of discussions, and nor does the opposition—sometimes the Greens do—but we can’t wilfully ignore or remain silent when there are these glaring concerns about Australian aid money and Australian donations that are flowing to organisations and governments that are knowingly funding or financially supporting, via third-party means, terrorist acts. That is the essence of what we’re here for. We’ve got to act in Australia’s interests. We have a role to play, internationally. We have a role to play in global affairs, and one of those roles is not to remain silent in the face of such atrocities.

It can go on to the Human Rights Council at the United Nations. Having been there and observed that, we would be wise to reconsider our involvement when the people who are most brutally suppressing human rights, as we know them, are often in charge and make up the numbers on it. They continue to pass anti-Semitic and anti-Israeli motions through many UN bodies, and the world doesn’t seem to want to know. They want to paint one picture: that the Israelis are the great oppressors. In reality, the forces opposed against them are state sanctioned by the Palestinian Authority. Iran spends more on funding terror than probably anything else right through the Middle East. We can’t be naive or silent in the face of such realities.

Senator Anning, good on you for bringing this forward and good on you for raising, I think, a very difficult issue. It’s one that you’ve had to suspend standing orders in this place to have your voice heard on. Equally, I recognise why some people don’t want this to take place, but I do think it is an appropriate place to have a discussion about what is going on in our world around us and what is being sanctioned, aided and abetted not only by our aid money but by Australian donations from individuals who are sympathetic to these causes. That, I think, is an indictment on those involved. It’s incumbent upon all of us to stand up and speak the truth to this sort of atrocity.

Link to parliamentary Hansard

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