Despite 139 countries now recognising the state of Palestine, after decades of negotiations and conflict, the Israeli-Palestinian issue remains unresolved. Eight million Palestinian people continue to live in Israel-occupied territory and refugee camps in neighbouring Arab states. Simultaneously, the Palestinian people face everyday struggles for survival, the loss of land, human rights violations and oppression.
Mr ZAPPIA (Makin) (18:59): In April this year, parliament passed the Mitochondrial Donation Law Reform (Maeve’s Law) Act 2022, otherwise referred to as Maeve’s law. The passage of that legislation gave hope to families faced with debilitating and even life-threatening disease, through the advancement of mitochondrial donations. That hope drew on similar legislation passed in the UK in 2015, which allowed for the study and testing of mitochondrial donation under strictly regulated conditions. Similar research was proposed here in Australia, where we have some outstanding medical research centres. In speaking to the legislation during the parliamentary debate, I referred to concerns that had been raised by the Robinson Research Institute in Adelaide about the procedure. I also noted that, since 2015, the UK research had provided no update on the effectiveness of mitochondrial donation.
Last month three Australian medical researchers—Paul Komesaroff, Ian Kerridge and Robert Norman—had a paper on mitochondrial donation published in InternalMedicine Journal No. 52, explaining the possible risks and highlighting the need for more research. I quote from their paper:
It is universally recognised that the stakes are very high: If the technology were to turn out to be unsafe, profoundly harmful consequences could result, such as the transmission of the very conditions that were sought to be averted, the creation of new, previously unknown diseases and the introduction of novel forms of mitochondrial dysfunction with effects impossible to predict. Moreover, such adverse outcomes would not only affect the individual produced, but would likely also be transmitted to succeeding generations. Obviously, under such circumstances, the implications for this entire field of research could be disastrous.
I haven’t read the full article, but, based on those comments, it is clear that much more research is required. I draw this matter to the attention of the Minister for Health and Aged Care so that parliament can in fact deliver on the hope that Maeve’s law provided to those families looking for a breakthrough in responding to mitochondrial disease by funding the research that is needed. Without that research, we cannot put Maeve’s law into effect and we cannot provide that light at the end of the tunnel for all of those families that were so much hoping that this would be a path forward for them.
The other matter that I will refer to is that today is the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People. The 29th of November has been marked as such for a long time. It was first established by a UN resolution in 1977. The day draws attention to the struggles for recognition of the Palestinian people and the creation of a separate Palestinian state. Despite 139 countries now recognising the state of Palestine, after decades of negotiations and conflict, the Israeli-Palestinian issue remains unresolved. Eight million Palestinian people continue to live in Israel-occupied territory and refugee camps in neighbouring Arab states. Simultaneously, the Palestinian people face everyday struggles for survival, the loss of land, human rights violations and oppression.
In September this year the UN special rapporteur Francesca Albanese—of all names!—released the Report of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967. In the report, there is clear evidence that the struggles of the Palestinian people continue. Paragraph 6 says:
Since 1967, the human rights situation in the occupied Palestinian territory has been steadily deteriorating, primarily as a result of gross violations of international law, including racial segregation and subjugation by the occupying Power, Israel. This has taken various forms: draconian restrictions on Palestinian movement inside and outside the occupied Palestinian territory; repression of political and civic participation; denial of residency rights, status and family unification; dispossession of Palestinian land and property; forcible transfers; unlawful killings; widespread arbitrary arrests and detention, including of children; the obstruction and denial of humanitarian aid and cooperation; the denial of ownership and access to natural resources; settler violence; and violent suppression of popular resistance against the occupation. All together, these practices constitute collective punishment of the Palestinian people.
As I said, the full report contains a lot more information with respect to the special rapporteur’s findings, which were then presented to the UN. But the reality is that all of those matters, I believe, are well known and have been known for years and years. The reality is also that the Palestinian people continue to struggle, despite a promise or a belief in their mind, some 75 years ago, that they would be provided with statehood. Whilst Israel has been able to achieve that, the Palestinian people still have not.
So today, on the day that is marked as the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, I again bring this matter to the House’s attention. I note that today in this house there was a meeting of people that have an interest in this issue, and I don’t believe I have come to this house and attended what I’ll call a briefing session on this matter with as many people as were there today. It’s clear that world opinion and even opinion here in Australia is shifting towards the acceptance of Palestine as a people that deserve to have their own statehood. It is something that I believe should be allowed to happen sooner rather than later.
In a similar vein, the people of Kurdistan face very, very similar situations. They, too, do not have a state of their own. They have their lands, but their lands are surrounded by Turkey, Iran, Syria, Iraq and Armenia. They don’t have statehood. As a result of not having statehood, they also do not have a voice in the UN. They do not have a voice on the world stage in so many different places. At the same time, their people are also being subjected to all sorts of hostility from surrounding countries. Their incarceration rates are much higher than in other places. Along with those incarceration rates, many death sentences are handed down. The constant attack on their lands is not only resulting in them losing their lands but also resulting in the loss of hundreds and hundreds of lives.
The Kurdish people have also come to this parliament and sought to at least have a friendship group established from within parliament so that they, through that friendship group, would have a voice to this parliament and beyond. Without that, like the Palestinian people, they are also being left out there in a position where they have real issues ahead of them, they are confronted with discrimination and oppression every single day of their lives, and they have no forum and no voice through which they can raise those issues. So I say today, as we reflect on the International Day of Solidarity with Palestinian People, people around the world deserve to have the same opportunities that we have in Australia, and if we can assist that happening in any way, we should be doing that.