Federal parliamentarians are taking significantly more privately-sponsored trips to Israel than any other country according to a new research report.
Information gathered by the Australia Palestine Advocacy Network from the parliamentary register of interests shows 18 percent of all sponsored trips between June 2018 and April 2022 were to Israel, with the next closest destinations being Taiwan (12%), and the USA (11%).
While both Taiwan and the USA are amongst Australia’s top 10 export markets, Israel is a very minor trading partner – representing 0.1% of Australian exports.
Sponsored trips to Israel also do not mirror community movements – in 2019, less than 0.2% of Australian overseas travel was to Israel.
“Parliamentarians must consider the flow-on impact of these junket trips on Australian public policy,” Australia Palestine Advocacy Network President, Bishop George Browning said.
“We need to ensure this doesn’t lead to reluctance to hold Israel to account.”
Former Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs, Bob Carr, was also critical of the findings, saying “APAN’s report confirms what was never in doubt: the Israel lobby is the largest foreign influence operation run in Australia – at least since the end of pro-Soviet propaganda and marketing during the Cold War.
“The trips and the other activities have only one objective and that’s to see that no matter what Israel does – spreading settlements, for example, or bulldozing Palestinian homes – it will never be criticised by Canberra.”
A decade ago, a Fairfax investigation indicated China was the top destination for lobby trips. However, the current research echoes a 2018 report by the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, which found Israel was again the top destination for federal politicians between 2010-2018.
The Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council (AIJAC), a private company criticised for minimising Israel’s human rights record, takes more parliamentarians to Israel than any other group.
During the period under study, Coalition parliamentarians were almost twice as likely than Labor parliamentarians to take sponsored trips to Israel. Furthermore, Coalition parliamentarians were four times as likely to take AIJAC-sponsored trips to Israel than Labor parliamentarians. A small number of crossbench parliamentarians also took sponsored trips to Israel.
When analysing sponsored trips to all other countries, roughly an equal number of Coalition and Labor parliamentarians took these trips, with a small number of crossbench parliamentarians also taking sponsored trips.
Only six parliamentarians visited Palestine in this period. Collectively, there were twice as many Labor and crossbench parliamentarians who travelled to Palestine than Coalition parliamentarians.
The full report can be accessed here, while the collated data can be viewed here.
For more information and interviews, contact:
Jarred – [email protected] – 0434 869 088