Legislative Council: Thursday, October 19, 2023




Adjourned debate on motion of Hon. C.M. Scriven:

That this council—

1. Unequivocally condemns the attacks on Israel by Hamas, which are the heinous acts of terrorists, and have encompassed the targeting and murder of civilians, including women and children, the taking of hostages and indiscriminate rocket fire;

2. Stands with Israel and recognises its inherent right to defend itself;

3. Condemns antisemitism and recognises that generations of Jewish people have been subjected to this hateful prejudice;

4. Calls for the immediate and unconditional release of all hostages;

5. Recognises that Hamas does not represent the Palestinian people, nor their legitimate needs and aspirations;

6. Acknowledges the devastating loss of Israeli and Palestinian life and that innocent civilians on all sides are suffering as a result of the attacks by Hamas and the subsequent conflict;

7. Supports justice and freedom for Israelis and Palestinians alike;

8. Supports international efforts to establish and maintain humanitarian access into Gaza, including safe passage for civilians;

9. Reiterates Australia's consistent position in all contexts is to call for the protection of civilian lives and the observance of international law;

10. Acknowledges what has unfolded is deeply distressing for many in the South Australian community, close to the heart of many, and it is important that we maintain respect for each other here at home as people express their views;

11. Condemns all forms of hate speech and violent extremist activity, including antisemitism and Islamophobia;

12. Recognises an attack on any religion is an attack on all religions and that we all share a responsibility to unite, condemn and defeat such an attack on our common values and way of life; and

13. Affirms in the strongest possible terms that hateful prejudice has no place in South Australia.

(Continued from 17 October 2023.)

The Hon. H.M. GIROLAMO (15:43): It is with great sadness and sombreness that I rise to speak on this motion today. October 7, 2023, just over a week ago, will live on as a nightmare for generations of people around the world. October 7, 2023, now stands in a group of terrible days alongside September 11, 2001, in New York; October 12, 2002, in Bali; and July 7, 2005, in London.

Israel is a proud liberal democracy and has the right to exist in peace. It also has the right to defend itself to bring back that peace when attacked by a terrorist organisation. Israel's place in this area is not without threat and has not been without war. They have fought before and they are still trying to stand strong.

The tragic events were brought on by Hamas, the Palestinian terrorist organisation. This organisation has been listed as a terrorist organisation in Australia since March last year. Hamas has wreaked havoc and terror across the land that they invaded on this fateful day. There can be no mitigation or concessions for their actions. Let me be clear: Hamas were barbaric and hideous, and we stand with Israel in the resolve to ensure that peace is returned.

The tragic events in Israel on that fateful day have reverberated here in Australia and now, sadly, in Adelaide too. In Adelaide, our great multicultural city, no-one should ever be made to feel unsafe. Local Rabbi Yossi Engel is concerned that Jews would be targeted, and they have employed extra security at their community centres to maintain their safety. His fears are not unfounded. It was frightening when, in Woodville Park, a resident erected a sign on their front lawn calling for death to Israel and its allies.

Jewish history and the foundation of Israel is tragic and was borne out of the atrocities of World War II. The deliberate extermination of more than six million Jewish people should not be forgotten. This more recent violence is yet another chapter. Unprovoked, deliberate attacking of civilians, families, women, old people and children is distressing and catastrophic. It has rightly sent shockwaves around the world.

We as a peace-loving country should seek to sow peace and safety from terrorism everywhere. As the Hon. Nicola Centofanti, the Leader of the Opposition in this place, and the Hon. David Speirs, the Leader of the Opposition in the other place, have reiterated in the days since, we stand with Israel. We offer our heartfelt sympathy and support.

The trauma and scars left by the Holocaust are permanent, and witnessing innocent civilians in Israel facing the ongoing prospect of rocket attacks, machine-gun fire and kidnapping is a stark reminder of the resilience and strength the Jewish people have demonstrated throughout history. In closing, I, too, pray for peace in Israel and the end to Hamas's terror. I support this motion.

The Hon. T.A. FRANKS (15:46): I rise to speak on this motion, and at the start I will move the amendment that has been circulated in my name:

Paragraph 2:

After 'itself' insert 'in accordance with international law'

The Greens wholeheartedly condemn the war crimes of Hamas. We grieve with Israelis and Palestinians alike, who have lost loved ones and experienced immeasurable hurt. We acknowledge that the grief of these communities grows daily due to the actions of Hamas and the Israeli state against each other's civilian communities.

The Greens reject and condemn all forms of violence, especially that against civilians. We call for an immediate ceasefire between all parties engaged in this conflict, an immediate halt to the forced removal and transfer of Palestinians in Gaza and an immediate end to the military siege.

We have an obligation to stop further bloodshed, and we must never forget that our goal must always be a just and lasting peace for both Israelis and Palestinians alike. I am proud that, last year, this council recognised the state of Palestine and called upon the Australian government to acknowledge Palestinians' right to statehood. There is no peace without justice, and there is no two-state solution without the recognition of those two states. Australia must not remain silent and be complicit in this invasion. There is no place here for antisemitism or Islamophobia.

The events of last week have rightfully moved many in the Australian community to voice their compassion and solidarity with all Israelis impacted by the 7 October attack and to offer help amid immense tragedy and trauma. The compassion and commitment to peace and justice demanded of all of us in moments such as these call on us to reject these acts of terrorism and blatant war crimes.

That same commitment to compassion, to honesty and to justice also requires us to recognise the war crimes committed by the state of Israel against the civilians of Gaza. In the wake of the 7 October attack, the state of Israel, rather than seek to respond with targeted operations designed to bring individual perpetrators to justice, in line with international law, has engaged in a ruthless campaign of collective punishment against the Palestinian civilians of Gaza.

The Israeli military has indiscriminately bombed civilians in their homes as they seek shelter, as they try to flee. There is no excuse, there is no justification, there can be no solidarity with such actions. That is not self-defence; that is a war crime. The Palestinians of Gaza live in the world's largest open-air prison. They live in an apartheid state. In the words of the United Nations Refugee Agency:

There is not one drop of water, not one grain of wheat, not a litre of fuel that has been allowed into the Gaza Strip for the last eight days.

The UN has declared the directions given by the Israeli military for evacuation orders in hospitals in northern Gaza a 'death sentence'. The Israeli state is deliberately shelling health facilities. They are targeting a population that is 40 per cent children. The Greens condemn the state of Israel's actions and agree with Labor minister the Hon. Ed Husic's assertion in recent hours that the Palestinians are being collectively punished for Hamas's barbarism, something they are not responsible for.

Australia must be part of an international push for peace and de-escalation. We must push for an immediate ceasefire, an end to the invasion of Gaza, and the holding to account of those who have committed war crimes. I indicate to the council, as I noted and moved at the start of this, that the Greens have moved an amendment to point 2, to specify that a right to defend one's country cannot be used to justify violence which holds innocent civilians captive in a war zone. Israel's right to defend itself cannot be taken as a blank cheque to carry out a massacre of the Palestinian people. The proposed amendment cites that this council stands with Israel's right to self-defence in accordance with international law.

We must work together to end the occupation of Palestinian territories to ensure the unconditional release of all hostages taken on the 7 October attack, and to ensure that all perpetrators of the attack are brought to justice in accordance with international law. There must be a removal of Israeli settlers and security forces from all Palestinian territories occupied since 1967, including the land and sea blockade of Gaza.

We must work to ensure the equitable allocation of national resources, including water, and an end to the siege that now denies Palestinians access to even water, medicine or food as it is stockpiled at the borders, including in Egypt. We must work collectively to ensure full equality before the law for every person. We must respond to these horrors with compassion and courage to speak the truth. We must respond with honesty and an unflinching commitment to justice.

The imminent invasion of Gaza threatens to turn a humanitarian disaster into a humanitarian catastrophe, but a lasting peace between Israelis and Palestinians must always be our goal. We must be honest about the history that preceded what we are witnessing now. Failing to recognise this will only reinforce a cycle of violence in which civilians will always pay the highest price.

The Hon. S.L. GAME (15:53): At the heart of this matter, whether you identify as Israeli, Palestinian, Arab or otherwise, peace and security is our fundamental goal. I am realistic about what can be achieved in this chamber in relation to the ongoing conflict and will contain my remarks as much as possible to the impacts on the relevant communities in South Australia.

I condemn the actions of militant group Hamas on 7 October, having inflicted the worst massacre of Jewish people since the Nazi Holocaust, but I also wish to express support to members of the South Australian Palestinian community who have been a part of our rich cultural and religious tapestry for at least 70 years and acknowledge the pain and grief of all South Australian Palestinians arising from conflict, recognising that this grief affects Palestinians of all faiths and those not religious.

One Nation does not discriminate based on race or ethnic background, nor faith or lack of. We welcome those who come to call Australia home and seek to contribute positively to our society. The migration of Palestinians to our shores is not only because of conflicts abroad, as Palestinian migrants have a long history in South Australia. Contemporary Palestinian immigrants come here for education and career opportunities and our democratic and peaceful way of life. They are members of our Muslim constituency and have established a strong community, settling throughout metropolitan Adelaide and contributing positively to our state.

Israel is not a perfect democracy; it is, however, one that is vibrant, innovative, prosperous and operates under the rule of law. I echo the beliefs of Senator McLachlan when he said in this place:

For Israel to have security, it needs a viable Palestinian state—a Palestinian state that also recognises Israel and rejects violence against the Jewish people, where trust exists between the two peoples.

I share his vision of seeing a Palestinian state that is cooperative and collaborative with its neighbour Israel, a state that has democratically elected leaders, respects the rule of law, rejects terrorism and promotes religious tolerance. It is for the federal government to dictate foreign policy and there has been a longstanding agreement both within and outside of Australia that the two-state solution ought to be pursued.

My wish, as it is for all members here, is for the peaceful coexistence of Israel and Palestine in the Middle East. I support the imperative to remove the daily toll of grief and despair arising from this conflict. As a community, we must do everything in our power to create the conditions for a just resolution and ultimately replace that suffering with hope. We must ensure all cultures that make up the rich multicultural fabric of Australian society continue to coexist in peace and harmony, promoting tolerance and continuing to work together.

The Hon. J.S. LEE (Deputy Leader of the Opposition) (15:55): It is with deep sorrow that I rise to speak about this motion, which has bipartisan support in the Parliament of South Australia. I want to start by expressing my deepest condolences and sympathy to every human being, young and old, who has been impacted.

It would be an understatement to say that we have all been profoundly shocked and sickened by the scale of the attacks on Israel by Hamas on 7 October 2023. The attacks are the hideous acts of terrorists and have encompassed the targeting and murdering of civilians, including women and children, the taking of hostages and indiscriminate rocket fire.

Reports from the United Nations and various sources stated that the death toll has risen to more than a staggering 4,500 people, and more than one million people have been displaced in Israel and the Gaza Strip in recent days. The area is under siege, affecting water supply, food, medicine and other basic needs of the people. The Israeli military says more than 1,400 people were killed and 3,621 have been injured.

The Gaza health ministry reported that 3,478 Palestinians were killed, including 750 children, and 12,500 have been injured. What happened on 7 October affects both Israelis and Palestinians in the region, as well as communities around the world. The devastating loss of Israeli and Palestinian lives is confronting and our hearts go out to innocent civilians on all sides who are suffering as a result of the attacks by Hamas and the subsequent conflicts.

It was a horrifying act of terror by a rain of rockets with sheer barbaric brutality and with no consideration for human lives. Those weapons were designed to kill and to terrify without discrimination. We must all stand up to support justice and freedom for Israelis and Palestinians alike. The sickening assault was not just an attack on Israel or the Jewish people, it was an attack on humanity and all peace-loving Palestinian people.

As this parliament condemns the acts of evil perpetrated by a hateful terrorist organisation based on the eradication of Jews, Israel has the right to defend itself against the attacks. Hamas's actions are so confronting for Jewish people, Holocaust survivors and their families. We just cannot imagine how traumatised they are right now as the situation brings back those dark memories of atrocities perpetrated against the Jewish people as they remember the six million European Jews killed in the Holocaust.

The Palestinian people are also suffering greatly and this suffering has impacted on generations of Palestinians. The humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip, which is home to two million people, is deteriorating rapidly. Hamas does not stand for the Palestinian people's right to dignity and self-determination.

Invasion built on the blood of innocent children and people should be absolutely condemned. The international community is monitoring the situation closely, and preserving innocent civilian populations is the duty of democracies. The situation on the ground is challenging and rapidly deteriorating, and Australia is standing firm to support international efforts to establish and maintain humanitarian access into Gaza, including safe passage for civilians.

This motion reiterates Australia's consistent position in all contexts to call for the protection of civilian lives and observance of international law because it is our fundamental belief that all people have the right to live in peace with secure borders. The people of Israel have that right. The people of Palestine have that right, too. The best path to that reality is a negotiated two-state solution within internationally recognised borders.

What has unfolded in the region is deeply distressing for many in Australia and our South Australian community. It is particularly heartbreaking for Australians who have family and friends in the region. They are worrying about the safety and wellbeing of their loved ones. In this time of despair, we ask our community to maintain respect for each other here at home as people express their deep sorrow, their emotions and their views. As this parliament and the Australian federal parliament stand united to condemn the attacks on humanity and to condemn Hamas, we remind each other and remind all Australians to block the temptations to join these evil forces of division.

We as a community should totally condemn anyone seeking to exploit people's pain and suffering for cynical and political purposes. We should condemn all forms of hate speech and violent extremist activities, including antisemitism and Islamophobia. We have no room for antisemitism in Australia, and we have no room for Islamophobia. There is absolutely no room for hatred—not against Jews, not against Muslims. We cannot afford the risk of damaging the harmonious coexistence of our multicultural community. Today, I would also like to quote some advice consistently given by Mr Mike Burgess, the Director-General of ASIO:

…it is important that all parties consider the implications for social cohesion when making public statements. As I have said previously, words matter. ASIO has seen direct connections between inflamed language and inflamed community tensions.

He goes on:

As always, ASIO is not interested in those who are engaged in lawful protest, but rather the small subset of protesters who may wish to escalate protest to violence. This includes religiously motivated and ideologically motivated extremists, or anyone who believes that violence is a means to further their own interests.

We recognise that an attack on any religion is an attack on all religions and that we all share a responsibility to unite, condemn and defeat such an attack on our common values and way of life. I join other members here in parliament to affirm in the strongest possible terms that hateful prejudice has no place in South Australia. This is a time for compassion and a time for humanity. This is a time for us to send our thoughts and prayers and a message of sympathy, solidarity and support to our Jewish community and Palestinian community.

The Hon. R.A. SIMMS (16:03): I rise to speak on this motion, and in so doing I draw on one of the four pillars of my party, the Greens, that is, peace and nonviolence. I echo the comments made by my colleague the Hon. Tammy Franks. Like so many Australians, I was horrified to see the attack that was perpetrated on the people of Israel by Hamas a few weeks ago, and I condemn this unequivocally. There can be no justification for the murder of innocent people.

I was also deeply distressed to hear reports of antisemitism and Islamophobia in some parts of our country following this attack. Antisemitism and Islamophobia should not be tolerated and must be condemned in the strongest possible terms. Australia is a multicultural country and all members of our community have a right to feel safe and free from vilification or persecution. The Greens stand against all forms of hate speech and racism.

I have also been horrified to see the bombing of Palestinian civilians by the state of Israel, and I condemn this action. The decision of the government of Israel to bombard the Gaza Strip is in defiance of international law. As a result, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs has reported that nearly a million people have been displaced. People are also being denied access to clean drinking water, electricity and basic sanitation services. Innocent people are losing their lives.

The collective punishment of the people of Palestine—innocent civilians—is immoral. Hamas is a terrorist organisation. It does not represent the people of Palestine. The Greens are calling for an immediate ceasefire between the state of Israel and Hamas and a redoubling of international efforts to end the occupation and to establish a just and lasting peace. More war and bloodshed is not the answer. We know that war only results in more lives lost, more grief and more misery for those who are left behind.

I know that many South Australians will be deeply distressed by the events that are unfolding overseas. Whatever their politics, their religion or their background, I urge all members of our community to reflect on our common humanity and the intrinsic value of each and every human being. Let us treat each other with empathy and compassion during this time. As the late, great Martin Luther King once said:

Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that.

The Hon. D.G.E. HOOD (16:06): I rise to unreservedly support this motion, to unequivocally condemn in the strongest possible terms the unprovoked, ruthless and barbaric attacks on Israel by the extremist fundamentalist Islamic terror group, Hamas.

As we are all aware, on Saturday 7 October this year, Hamas undertook an unprecedented, brutal and carefully orchestrated surprise attack on Israel by air, land and sea. Thousands of rockets were fired indiscriminately towards Israeli towns, before Hamas terrorists broke through the border fences of Israel where they proceeded to murder more than 1,400 Israelis, including civilians and soldiers and taking an estimated further 199 Israelis hostage.

Shockingly, among those who were brutally executed and taken captive were the most vulnerable within their community: the elderly, women and children and even babies. First responders to the massacre described the depravity of what Hamas undertook as 'haunting'. Young people were descended upon at a music festival and many gunned down or captured. Women were raped and dragged around in the streets naked. Entire families were slaughtered in their homes, with mothers and fathers riddled with bullets while trying to protect their own children. Bodies were mutilated and paraded around on the back of utilities and people were burnt alive. There were reports of innocent children being beheaded and even infants in a nursery decapitated in front of their parents before they, too, were killed for trying to protect their own children. It really is beyond belief.

As accounts of the extreme terror of what the Israelis suffered at the hands of Hamas continue to emerge, the cruelty is just incomprehensible. What has transpired against the Israelis has aptly been referenced as the worst Jewish massacre since World War II and the Holocaust. It is simply evil. Israel has an absolute right to defend itself against these depraved terrorists. The Hamas covenant comprises a comprehensive manifesto promoting its fundamental aim of destroying the state of Israel through jihad.

For those who are reading this or those who are unfamiliar with the Hamas covenant, I implore them to read it. According to an analysis of the Hamas charter by the Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center, it manifests an extreme worldview which is as anti-Western as other terrorist organisations we are familiar with, leading to a refusal to recognise Israel's right to even exist as an independent, sovereign nation and the waging of a ceaseless Islamic holy war against it.

At the beginning of the charter it states, and I quote: 'Israel will arise and continue to exist until Islam wipes it out.' Hamas's objective is abundantly clear, and Israel must certainly deter future existential threats to its existence, including all acts of aggression, coercion and interference from this callous entity.

Of course, as the Israeli government retaliates and defends its people, all due care must be taken to prevent the loss of civilian life and casualties in Gaza. There are innocent Israelis and Palestinians who have been killed or devastated by these terrifying developments, and it is understood that Israel is taking all possible precautions to minimise further harm to civilians accordingly, as they should.

I also acknowledge there are many in South Australia who are deeply affected and distressed by these tragic events. Whilst we are privileged to be part of a nation that espouses free speech and the right to protest, antisemitism and violent extremist activity must be condemned on all fronts. I was appalled to witness the repugnant antisemitic chants that were made in Sydney at an anti-Israel rally last week, while an Israeli flag was being burned. Such behaviour is abhorrent and should never be tolerated.

Australia's Jewish community was robbed of the opportunity to gather together and mourn the loss of their loved ones at the Sydney Opera House that same evening, which was illuminated in blue and white as a show of support for Israel by the New South Wales government. It was instead hijacked by those who consider the deaths and terrorisation of Israelis as something to be somehow celebrated. It was an absolute disgrace.

The history of the Jewish people may have been marred by adversity, tribulation and persecution to a degree that no other ethnicity has ever had to endure, yet it has also been overwhelmingly marked by resilience, perseverance and triumph against the odds. I join with other members in wholeheartedly standing with Israel in solidarity as they again fight for survival. I commend the motion to the council.

The Hon. C.M. SCRIVEN (Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development, Minister for Forest Industries) (16:11): I would like to thank all of the members who have made contributions on this very important motion. I reiterate the sadness that we are feeling for all of those impacted by this tragedy and we restate, again, the needs that are outlined in this motion.

I note that there was an amendment moved. I will just make a brief statement to that now. The amendment adds some words into paragraph 2 of this motion in regard to international law. The observance of international law is already mentioned in paragraph 9 of the original motion. Whilst it is somewhat repetitive to also have it in paragraph 2, the amendment does not change the meaning of the motion in any way, so I do commend the motion to the chamber. I thank all of those who will support the motion in support of peace in the Middle East.

Amendment carried; motion as amended carried.