Today is the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People. There is nothing more urgent on this day than for the Australian government to call for an immediate ceasefire between all of the parties in Gaza. The current truce agreement is not even close to the time required for Gaza and its people to begin to heal.
Senator STEELE-JOHN (Western Australia) (15:04): I seek leave to move a motion calling for a ceasefire in Gaza, as circulated.
Leave not granted.
Senator STEELE-JOHN: Pursuant to contingent notice, and at the request of Senator Waters, I move:
That so much of standing orders be suspended as would prevent me from moving a motion to provide for the consideration of a matter, namely a motion to allow a motion calling for a ceasefire in Gaza to be moved immediately.
Today is the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People. There is nothing more urgent on this day than for the Australian government to call for an immediate ceasefire between all of the parties in Gaza. The current truce agreement is not even close to the time required for Gaza and its people to begin to heal. I will read to the chamber the words of a Palestinian journalist in Gaza, Afaf:
Many of us did not dare go out on the first day of the temporary truce in Gaza. We were too afraid it would not hold. On the second day, we gathered our courage—
and stepped out.
The daylight illuminated the destruction caused by Israel’s non-stop bombardment of Gaza over the past seven weeks. We did not recognise our neighbourhoods and streets.
… … …
The destruction was the first thing we saw. Then came the pain.
Amid the panic, alarm and scurrying to survive the bombs, many of us did not fully grasp the loss of loved ones, the wounds sustained, the lives, bodies and dreams shattered and destroyed. Many could not bury their dead. Many could not grieve.
… … …
This pause has been more painful than the 50 days before it. It is the first time the people of Gaza were able to look at their open wounds, martyred children, slaughtered families, destroyed homes and shattered lives. Just imagine living for six days just to prepare and wait for your death on the seventh.
We have witnessed so much courage, strength and bravery of Palestinians within Gaza since 7 October. The bravery within a father who dives back into the rubble knowing that they are engaged in the digging out of their child; the bravery of mothers, despite their deepest fears, writing the names of their children upon the arms that have embraced them, so that their limbs can be identified if they’re killed; the bravery of children who have lost their entire family and are orphaned in a dark and broken hospital; the bravery of medical workers who operate on patients without anaesthetic or painkillers, knowing that it is the only way; and the bravery of humanitarian workers who don’t know whether they will survive, let alone whether those they support will survive.
Yet this government is not brave enough even to call for a ceasefire in the name of humanity. In the last seven weeks, it has not been able to find the courage even to stop its arms exports or admit that a total of $13 million in arms and ammunitions over the last five years have been sent to the State of Israel from Australia. The United Nations has said that there are billions of dollars that will be required in aid to Gaza, and yet this government has provided no more than $25 million. This is an insult to the humanity of the Australian community. It is a profound failure of moral clarity. It is a profound failure to connect the work we do and the responsibility we have in this place with the human beings in Australia and around the world who need the courage of people in decision-making spaces right now to match theirs.
I call on the government to choose the side of history that you want to be on when we look back collectively on the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People next year. Right now, the Labor government is leaving a bloody stain on its legacy and on the broader Australian democracy. It must call for a ceasefire now.