Statement: Middle East

Monday, 13 November 2023

Mr HAWKE (Mitchell) (13:51): I rise again to call out the terrible incidents we've seen in Australia since we last met in relation to the rise of anti-Semitic activity on our streets. Sadly, in Caulfield we've seen unacceptable violence with people targeting people on the basis of their race or religion and, again, in my opinion, an inadequate response from the authorities. When I spoke on this last, I pointed to the inadequate police response in Sydney on the steps of the Opera House, and I again call on the authorities, with all of the power, with all of the legislation, with all of the money they're given, to do their jobs to protect minorities in Australia from acts of intimidation and violence specifically targeted at them.

I point out to the government again that the response of the foreign minister, Penny Wong, was wholly inadequate in this regard in calling for a ceasefire. I point the foreign minister to the European Union, where Josep Borrell Fontelles, who of course is the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, recently issued a statement. In that statement calling for a ceasefire and the ceasing of hostilities, he pointed out that they, the EU, call on Hamas to immediately and unconditionally release all hostages, condemn the use of hospitals and civilians as human shields by Hamas and that civilians must be allowed to leave the combat zone. Hostilities are severely impacting hospitals and civilians. I would point the foreign minister to this statement, because that is the appropriate statement to issue on behalf of Australia—not that we're calling for a ceasefire but that we are calling for all of this to be addressed, including Hamas terrorism and the taking of civilians.