Australia deeply regrets that hostilities have resumed in Gaza and the immense human suffering that continues. The recent pause allowed for the release of 105 hostages, the protection of civilians and a much-needed increase in critical humanitarian supplies at such an important time. I thank Senator McKim for bringing this motion on, because we need to be able to continue to recognise what is going on in the Middle East.
Senator McCARTHY (Northern Territory—Assistant Minister for Indigenous Australians and Assistant Minister for Indigenous Health) (16:39): I call on all senators to remember that our words in this place do matter and that they do impact all of those Australians out there who are feeling very mixed feelings—from both sides of this horrific conflict that’s taking place in the Middle East. It does not do this Senate any good to bring in here that kind of discussion and those personal attacks on other senators.
Australia deeply regrets that hostilities have resumed in Gaza and the immense human suffering that continues. The recent pause allowed for the release of 105 hostages, the protection of civilians and a much-needed increase in critical humanitarian supplies at such an important time. I thank Senator McKim for bringing this motion on, because we need to be able to continue to recognise what is going on in the Middle East. Australia wants to see this support of humanitarian supplies continue. We continue to call for hostages to be released, for sustained and unimpeded humanitarian access and, of course, for the protection of civilian lives—men, women and children. We are urging all parties to exercise restraint, respect international humanitarian law and protect civilians, and we must ultimately work towards a long-term, enduring peace. The government has called for Israel to honour its commitment to uphold international law and protect innocent lives. We’ve called on Israel to protect hospitals, medical staff and patients, and we have said Israel must conduct its military operations lawfully. We also call for safe, unimpeded and sustained humanitarian access and safe passage for civilians. Even before these recent hostilities resumed, suffering continued, particularly in Gaza. UNICEF have said:
Gaza has become a graveyard for thousands of children. It’s a living hell for everyone else.
As this conflict continues, we must remember a child is a child and they should be protected, no matter who or where they are.
The peace we all want to see requires a two-state solution, with Israelis and Palestinians living securely and prosperously within internationally recognised borders. Australia has been working with countries, and I commend Senator Wong for the work that she’s doing in this area. She’s working with those countries that have influence in the region to help protect and support civilians, to help prevent the conflict from spreading and to reinforce the need for the just and enduring peace that all of us want.
I’d also like to just reach out to my constituents in the Northern Territory. I’ve sat down and met with members from the Palestinian community and also from the Jewish community. I know how distressing this is, and we all do. I have no doubt that every single senator and every member of parliament has heard stories from people that they’re close to and also from their own constituents, and I thank them for the work that they’re doing to try to bring about greater peace and understanding in both of those areas. Thank you. We are certainly making sure that our government is listening to the calls that you are making in the Northern Territory.
We all understand how distressing these events are. There are people who’ve lost family, people who’ve lost friends and people who feel so deeply about these issues, and these are traumatic images, with the loss of life. We must all work to ensure that distress does not turn into hate and anger. There is, of course, no place for violence, antisemitism, racism or Islamophobia here in Australia. I would remind senators that we have our own domestic issues here too as far as these issues are concerned. Our language matters. The way we pursue peace in our own country, amongst the many diverse groups that we have, is absolutely critical, and it’s the same thing that we want to see in the Middle East.