There are legitimate aspirations for the Palestinian people. It’s legitimate to want to live freely: free of occupation, free of endless checkpoints, free of a legal system which differs in the different ways that military courts do. All of that is further away now—further away than it was two weeks ago It is much, much further. The actions of Hamas have caused carnage across the Israeli community and, similarly, have provided no assistance whatsoever to Palestinians.
Mr BURKE (Watson—Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations, Minister for the Arts and Leader of the House) (12:31): None of us wanted to be in a parliament for a resolution in a moment in history like this. I join with all members in the condemnation of the actions of Hamas, condemnation of indiscriminate killing, condemnation of the targeting of civilians, condemnation of the taking of hostages and condemnation of what has been described accurately as the greatest loss of Jewish life in a single day since the Holocaust. I add to the view which I think the first time I saw put in these terms was by the joint statement from President Biden and a number of other world leaders, where they referred to the actions of Hamas not only as being horrific in their immediacy and as being tragic in the outcome for everybody they came near but also as being contrary to the legitimate aspirations of the Palestinian people.
There are legitimate aspirations for the Palestinian people. It’s legitimate to want to live freely: free of occupation, free of endless checkpoints, free of a legal system which differs in the different ways that military courts do. All of that is further away now—further away than it was two weeks ago It is much, much further. The actions of Hamas have caused carnage across the Israeli community and, similarly, have provided no assistance whatsoever to Palestinians. It’s important, when we talk about actions, that we don’t fall into games of false equivalence. It’s also important, though, that, when innocent life is lost, we mourn innocent life regardless of who it is. We mourn deaths of families wiped out, mourn grandparents brutally slain, mourn babies who had decades of life ahead of them that have been taken, and there are examples of those both Israeli and Palestinian. We need to mourn all of them.
There are Australians grieving for people on either side of the border, and all of those Australians who are grieving the loss of innocent life have a right to know that the parliament grieves with them, grieves for the deaths: the deaths that are known, the deaths where people are still waiting for confirmation and inevitably the deaths where confirmation will never come, where a life that was known is just never reported back again.
There is also the ongoing grief for loss which is not loss of life but is the permanent loss to people through all the fear which lies ahead. There is the fear of something as joyous as a music festival being something where people will feel they cannot relax; the fear of something as routine as attendance at a pizza shop; the fear of being confronted at a checkpoint; and the fear of sleeping and not knowing whether, by the time morning comes, a bomb may have struck or a knock on the door may have come saying that your home is to be demolished. There is the base fear of the constant risk of terrorism and the base fear of living with a seemingly endless occupation. All of those fears are something now that will last longer as a result of what has just occurred.
The resolution in front of us calls for the upholding of international law. It is calling for the upholding of all international law: international law against the targeting of civilians; international law against the taking of hostages; and international law against collective punishment. But I want to say something quite specific about hate speech. A few people, not many, were aware of the state of my health last week, which meant that my public commentary was very limited and that when comments were eventually given to the media late in the week they were not published. Allow me to take this chance to be quite unequivocal: statements of hate speech, some of which were given in my part of Sydney and some of which were given elsewhere, are all unacceptable and are all to be condemned. There is no place for hate speech in Australia.
I was particularly devastated that one of those comments was made along the pathway where my community had conducted the Walk for Respect. My community has actually been at the centre—at the absolute centre—of opposing any weakening of our hate speech laws. In my community, Jews, Muslims, Christians, Buddhists, Hindus and people of no faith at all walked together against hate speech—against all forms of hate speech. They were against racist hate speech, against antisemitism and against Islamophobia. Anyone who in years gone past has argued that we should weaken our laws against hate speech was wrong then, and anyone now who engages in hate speech, thinking that it’s only words, is wrong!
We must not pretend, though, that the minority engaging in hate speech is somehow representative of us as a nation or of any group as a community. It is incredibly important in how we respect and debate each other, and how we regard which words are truly representative of communities and which words are not, that we don’t pretend that the sections of hate are bigger in Australia than they are. But, to the extent that they are there, we must fight them and fight them hard. When our fellow Australians mourn, when our fellow Australians fear and when our fellow Australians hope, we need to stand with them.