By Kishor Napier-Raman and Noel Towell
Much to CBD’s frustration, Euro summer is “so back” at levels to rival the hedonistic pre-COVID years.
For Australia’s political class, a long break from parliament means ample opportunity to escape the winter gloom on holidays, study tours and paid-up junkets, which are also very much back.
For years, Israel has been the most popular destination for fully paid junkets held by local organisations such as the Australia Israel and Jewish Affairs Council, which have taken members from both sides of politics to the Middle East – and journalists, too, including several from The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age.
Meanwhile, the Australia Palestine Advocacy Network held its first study tour to Palestine since borders reopened, with Labor’s blow-in Parramatta MP Andrew Charlton and Senator Louise Pratt spotted in Ramallah last week. It comes as the Albanese government faces pressure from within the Labor camp to recognise a Palestinian state.
Unlike Israel trips, the APAN tour is partially self-funded, with politicians stumping up for their own airfares.
Meanwhile, Charlton’s Labor backbench colleague Cassandra Fernando was in Israel this month on a tour hosted by the Australia Israel and Jewish Affairs Council, along with ALP Senator Raff Ciccone and Liberal MPs Keith Wolahan, Andrew McLachlan and Jenny Ware.
They’ve certainly chosen a time to head to the Middle East, with the Israel Defence Forces launching a rampant assault on the West Bank city of Jenin last week.
Wolahan, the special forces Afghanistan veteran who you’d think would have had enough of conflict zones, reported a quiet time, although his group did travel through the area of southern Israel hit with Hamas rockets two days earlier. He’s been a lot closer to hostile fire than that.