Legislative Council: Wednesday, February 07, 2024


International Day for Disarmament and Non-Proliferation Awareness

The Hon. R.P. WORTLEY (15:52): I stand today to acknowledge International Day for Disarmament and Non-Proliferation Awareness. This is a day we need to embrace, even if we are not yet to the point where we can fully celebrate it.

On 5 March, we have a day set aside to at least make us aware of the need for disarmament in making the world a better and safer place. That need was reinforced in 2023 on so many different levels. From the international fear of war and terrorism to the domestic terrorism that sweeps the United States on a near-daily basis with mass shootings, we know that something has to be done to fix things.

Russia's invasion of Ukraine continued into its second year, complete with the bombing of community spaces such as theatres, cafes and shopping precincts. Nothing was off limits to the aggressors and innocent lives were lost as people went about their daily routines. Just as that horror fully sunk in, the world was hit with another act of heinous aggression on 7 October. Hamas terrorists invaded Israel, killing 1,200 innocent people, many of whom had travelled there from overseas, and locally, to attend an outdoor music concert. They had grievances with the Israeli state but could not discriminate between their enemy, innocent concertgoers and visitors.

In retaliation, the Israeli Army conducted an assault on Gaza and was also not able to discriminate between their Hamas enemy and residents of the strip. The Israeli air and artillery attacks on the Gaza Strip has resulted in more than 27,000 deaths, mainly of civilians who had no time for Hamas themselves. Just remember, there has not been an election over in the Gaza Strip in Palestine for 17 years because Hamas itself realises that they are not that popular, they have not delivered what they promised, and they would probably lose an election if they had one.

More than 11,000 of those killed were children. This is what happens when hundreds of schools and health facilities are targeted in retaliatory attacks. The world is sick of the images of children being rushed into hospital to have their limbs amputated. There have been reports of where they have done so without anaesthetic because they simply ran out. What a harrowing scene it is to see young Israeli men, on this occasion, stopping trucks delivering very important medical and food supplies into Gaza.

Israel refuses to cease its indiscriminate bombing of the Gaza Strip. Peace will not be achieved with bombs. In this case, the pen is mightier than the sword. Peace can only be achieved with a diplomatic solution. The two-state solution is widely accepted around the world, that that is the way to end, but each state has to be able to live in peace and live without the fear of attack from their neighbour.

The list just goes on and on. The civil war in Yemen continues today, 10 years after it started, where thousands of children have been killed and more than a million suffer malnutrition. Perhaps even more sobering, children as young as 10 have been recruited to fight in that war. The Syrian war is into its fourteenth year and has killed more than half a million people.

The Rwandan genocide at the start of the century led to the deaths of almost three million civilians. The heinous attacks since 2009 by Boko Haram killed 11,000 citizens in West Africa, and 98 schoolgirls kidnapped almost a decade ago are still missing. In that case, a further two million have been displaced. And of course the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have, tragically, been part of our newsfeed for decades.

In the United States, there has not needed to be a declared or even undeclared war for the casualties to pile up. On two of every three days in one of the world's so-called greatest civilised nations, mass shootings occur. Last year, there were more than 250 mass shootings. Whether it is major powers ramping up their military power or just the insane need in countries like the US for residents to have their own semiautomatic guns, disarmament is a cause worth pursuing.

In 2021, global military spending reached $2.1 trillion. That is two thousand billion dollars. With fear and war aside, imagine what the world could do with that sort of money. Imagine the things we could do with it for progressive practices, such as producing food, educating people, dealing with natural disasters—

Members interjecting:

The ACTING PRESIDENT (The Hon. D.G.E. Hood): Order!

The Hon. R.P. WORTLEY: —and finding better ways to protect the environment.

Time expired.