Statement – Israel
Mr PITT: The horrific events in Israel might seem far removed from Australia, but they are a stark reminder that terrorism still exists, and our nation, Australia, must remain vigilant. The abhorrent attack, the despicable attack, the heinous attack, the horrifying and awful attack, the reprehensible attack by Hamas on Israel was clearly intended to inflict maximum harm on innocent civilians, and that has been achieved. There are more than 1,400 Israelis who have lost their lives. Almost 200 people are being held hostage by Hamas.
Hamas was officially listed as a terrorist organisation by the coalition government in March 2022 following a recommendation by the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security in September 2021. I think it is important to remind people what this means and what these restrictions and Australian law require. In this country, it is an offence to be a member of a terrorist organisation. It is an offence to direct the activities of a terrorist organisations. It is an offence to recruit for a terrorist organisation. It is an offence to train or receive training from or participate in training with a terrorist organisation. It is offence to acquire funds for, from, or to a terrorist organisation and to provide support to a terrorist organisation. It is also an offence to associate with a listed terrorist organisation. The maximum penalty is up to 25 years in prison. Hamas is a listed terror organisation in this country and many others.
Thankfully, this war is not on our shores, but it is having an impact on many Australian citizens and those who have relatives and others who are directly impacted. I continue to hear calls for restraint, but can you imagine if it were 1,400 Australian citizens who were killed by weak men with guns, who kicked down the doors of their residents and murdered women and children and infants? Can you imagine the response that would be expected of the Australian government? I think some of the commentary, to be honest, has been ridiculous. It is not a matter of being pro-Israel or pro-Palestine; it is a matter of being antiterrorist and antiterrorism, and I think every Australian would support that position.
We have seen some changes with the Albanese government in terms of their counterterrorism framework, and I would urge them to be cautious. They have shifted the responsibility for the banning of terrorists to the Attorney-General—it was held by the Minister for Home Affairs. I’m concerned about what change and what impact that might have on our national security framework. This is a terrible time for those individuals directly affected. It’s a terrible time for the world. It’s a terrible time for the people we represent and for the Australian people. Like many, I saw the footage in Sydney. In the first couple of instances I took no notice because I simply did not think it was in this country—I thought it was somewhere else. The images of the protests in Sydney are not the nation I know, they are not the people I know, they are not the Australians I know. I think that we should all stand up against anyone that would go out and say such reprehensible things. Chants ‘gas the Jews’—and others
which I won’t repeat in this place—have no place in this country. They do not. I urge the AFP and our other security organisations that if these are individuals who are here who are not Australian citizens then they need to be identified and they need to be moved on, and we need to take every opportunity to keep our people safe.
I refer to a column by Aaron Patrick, titled ‘For the first time Sydney’s Jews fear to walk their streets’. I can’t believe this is our country where a child is scared to wear their school uniform. This is a very challenging time for our nation. Some of it reflects poorly on all of us—the fact that it occurred and the fact it was allowed to occur—and it should not continue in this nation.
This will go on for some time in terms of the potential conflict and the conflict that is currently occurring in the Middle East. Australia needs to do its part, and to do it in a way which is respectful of the fact that 1,400 people have been murdered. It is an incredible, awful thing to have happened. Many Australians have relatives who are impacted, many Australians are terrified for their relatives and their loved ones, and a number have had the worst possible outcomes—not only Israeli citizens but also those from other countries around the world. I won’t speak for much longer. I know the member for Moreton will be very keen to make a contribution before the time ends. This is a position against terrorism. We are against terrorists and we should do everything we can to prevent them from causing harm to any citizen, including Australian citizens.