This is possibly not the time for a policy discussion, but I noticed in that contribution there was not one mention of terrorism, of Hamas, of hostages. This is not a binary debate. This is a deeply difficult, tragic, complex debate which has a long history and the horrific events of 7 October, and your party declined to support the motion where the parliament condemned them.
Senator WONG (South Australia—Minister for Foreign Affairs and Leader of the Government in the Senate) (12:06): I seek leave to make a short statement.
The PRESIDENT: Leave is granted for five minutes.
Senator WONG: Well, that was quite an inflammatory contribution. It was a hurtful contribution to suggest that somehow the only person in this chamber who cares about lives lost—
Senator Faruqi interjecting—
Senator WONG: I listened to you in silence, Senator Faruqi.
Senator McKim interjecting—
Senator WONG: I listened to her in silence, Senator. It was hurtful to suggest the only person in this chamber who cares about the loss of life is Senator Faruqi. That is not the case. We all care about the loss of life. The motion you voted against talked about every innocent life.
This is possibly not the time for a policy discussion, but I noticed in that contribution there was not one mention of terrorism, of Hamas, of hostages. This is not a binary debate. This is a deeply difficult, tragic, complex debate which has a long history and the horrific events of 7 October, and your party declined to support the motion where the parliament condemned them. I would ask the Greens political party to reflect on how they are handling this debate. I would ask them to reflect on whether this is a time when you want to make political differences about political parties or whether this is a time when all of us, as political leaders, might actually need to ensure that we don’t amplify the distress and grief that we all know is in our communities—in the Jewish community, too, after the single biggest loss of life since the Holocaust, on any day, as well as in our Palestinian, Arabic and Islamic communities. Maybe our job is not to amplify that distress. Maybe our job is not to foment division in the hope that there is some political advantage. Maybe our job as leaders is to try—
Senator Shoebridge: Is to call for a ceasefire.
Senator WONG: Here we go again. Maybe your job, as a leader, is not to chant a slogan and not to amplify distress into anger and violence, which is what we have seen. Maybe your job—
Senator Shoebridge: Stop the killing and call for a ceasefire.
The PRESIDENT: Order!
Senator WONG: as leaders, is to ensure that we do not allow this to divide our country. Our caucus represents the breadth of Australia, and I’m so deeply proud—
The PRESIDENT: Minister Wong, please resume your seat. Senator Faruqi?
Senator Faruqi: President, I have a point of order. Senator Wong is casting aspersions and basically insinuating—
The PRESIDENT: Senator Faruqi—
Senator Faruqi: Could you listen to my point of order, please?
The PRESIDENT: I’ve heard your point of view. Resume your seat. There is no point of order, and I will remind all senators in this place that Senator Faruqi was listened to in respectful silence. I expect that for any other speaker who seeks the call, and that silence needs to come from across the chamber.
Senator WONG: I would make the point that Senator Faruqi’s statement in large part attacked the Labor Party, and now she talks about aspersions. Well, you know what my statement is? I believe leadership is not amplifying distress so that it leads to anger and violence. I believe leadership is trying to hold our country together to unify our community and stand against all forms of prejudice and hatred, because we, as Australians, value and treasure our peaceful community. We treasure unity. We treasure the values of inclusion and acceptance.
I would say to the Greens political party: you have heard what I have said about the suffering of civilians. You have heard what we have said from the beginning about the need for Israel to observe international law. You have also heard us say that any ceasefire cannot be one-sided, because we know what Hamas is. There are legitimate political differences, but to come in here, Senator Faruqi, and suggest that we do not care about people dying is really—you talk about aspersions. It is very distressing to my caucus and, I suspect, to many people around the country.
This is an international crisis. It is a humanitarian catastrophe. We are seeing loss of life which is harrowing—I think that was the word I used. Let us not have politicians here in Australia using this crisis as another issue to campaign on. All of us in this place should remember each other’s humanity. We should all remember each other’s humanity. We are all Australian. All of us in this place have a job to do, and that is advocating the protection of civilians, working for peace and keeping our country unified.