The Australian government cannot take a moment longer to support a ceasefire. This motion gives them the opportunity to do so. If anyone in this place doubts the urgency of this motion, consider what we’ve seen occur in the past few days in Gaza. The death toll stands at over 10,000. There are countless more people missing under growing piles of rubble. Many families are surviving on only one meal a day. Water consumption in Gaza is currently reduced by 92 per cent of the rate of consumption before 7 October.
Senator STEELE-JOHN (Western Australia) (15:02): I seek leave to move a motion calling for a ceasefire in Gaza in the terms circulated in the chamber.
Leave not granted.
Senator STEELE-JOHN: At the request of Senator Waters, I move:
That so much of the standing orders be suspended as would prevent me from moving a motion to provide for the consideration of a matter—namely, a motion relating to a call for a ceasefire in Gaza to be moved immediately.
The moment for the Senate to support a ceasefire between all parties in Gaza is now. Every second that passes is ending more and more innocent lives. The hunger of the people of Gaza deepens. The thirst becomes more profound. More refugee camps are turned to rubble and more medical facilities are destroyed.
The Australian government cannot take a moment longer to support a ceasefire. This motion gives them the opportunity to do so. If anyone in this place doubts the urgency of this motion, consider what we’ve seen occur in the past few days in Gaza. The death toll stands at over 10,000. There are countless more people missing under growing piles of rubble. Many families are surviving on only one meal a day. Water consumption in Gaza is currently reduced by 92 per cent of the rate of consumption before 7 October. The Red Crescent has said that forces of the State of Israel have targeted International Red Cross humanitarian aid convoys trying to reach Gaza City. We’ve had a report of Doctors Without Borders staff being killed.
Let us consider what the next days and weeks could bring.
Five thousand five hundred women in Gaza are due to give birth soon or within the coming month. Over half of Gaza’s educational facilities have been hit, including 29 UN schools. Eight of these were being used as emergency shelters for displaced people. A school in the south of Gaza with a maximum capacity of 2,000 people is currently host to over 22,500 displaced people. In this facility there are only 16 bathrooms. None of them flush. Communicable diseases are beginning to spread like wildfire. There is fear of a cholera outbreak.
More than 41 per cent of people killed in Gaza since 7 October have been children. That’s two-fifths of nearly every civilian death every single day. As of 48 hours ago, 1,350 children were reported missing. Last week, one child died in Gaza every 15 minutes. This week, one child dies every 10. One child is injured in Gaza every five minutes. Twice as many Palestinian children have been killed in Gaza over the past month as the total number of Palestinian children killed in the West Bank and Gaza since 1967. Palestinians are no longer talking about ‘if’ they die; they are talking about ‘when’ they will die.
This is a humanitarian catastrophe. These are war crimes being committed by the state of Israel. Mothers are having to mark their children’s skin permanently in order to ensure that their names are located with the body parts which they expect to soon be extracted from the rubble. Fathers are digging their sons out of the rubble only to have nowhere to bury them. Journalists sharing these stories around and throughout the conflict zone are putting themselves and their families at risk. Thirty-six of these fearless storytellers have been killed so far. Every civilian life is deserving of dignity and is protected by international law. If this government cannot call for a ceasefire, cannot condemn these war crimes, what is the point in its existence? We must join together with the community and declare, ‘Ceasefire now!’ Ceasefire now! Ceasefire now!
Honourable senators interjecting—
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT: I call you to order. Put those props away.