Australia/Israel Review


States of Solidarity

Nov 24, 2023 | Jamie Hyams

Image: Reddit
Image: Reddit

As mentioned in November’s Review, as well as occupying much debate in the Federal Parliament, the horrific October 7 atrocities and their aftermath were also covered in all the state parliaments, with a number also passing motions. Below is a summary of how the six state legislatures dealt with the issue, with some of the more notable among the many contributions. 

 

NSW

On Oct. 10, Premier Chris Minns (ALP, Kogarah) said, “The New South Wales Government clearly and unequivocally condemns the acts of violence and hatred conducted by members of Hamas on citizens of Israel. This is an abhorrent attack… We stand with the people of Israel and the Jewish community in New South Wales.”

Opposition Leader Mark Speakman (Lib., Cronulla) said, “The Opposition stands with the Government in condemning this barbaric episode in history… It is completely understandable that Israel would want to defend itself, and we acknowledge, respect and uphold the right to defend itself…”

The same day, Government Minister and Leader of the Government in the Legislative Council Penny Sharpe (ALP) and Shadow Treasurer and Leader of the Opposition in the Council Damian Tudehope (Lib.) also both strongly condemned the attack and expressed solidarity with Israel.

On Oct. 11, in the Legislative Council, Government Whip Bob Nanva moved a motion:

“(1) That this House condemns the horrific and coordinated attack by Hamas on Israel…

(4) That this House calls for an end to the attacks and the immediate release of all hostages.

(5) That this House recognises Israel’s right to defend itself.”

Damian Tudehope said, “In the face of this murderous, barbaric attack on Israel, all of us should stand in solidarity with the State of Israel… Israel has the unequivocal right to defend itself against further attacks by doing whatever is necessary to disarm and cripple Hamas so it can never again repeat these atrocities.”

Penny Sharpe said, “There is no justification or excuse for the indiscriminate murders, taking of hostages or the firing of rockets into cities that Hamas has engaged in… The New South Wales Government stands with Israel and the Jewish people.”

Treasurer Daniel Mookhey said, “The images and reports are haunting. The number of victims is appalling. The circumstances in which they were attacked are horrifying… The Government extends its solidarity to the people of Israel.”

Deputy Opposition Leader Natalie Ward said, “Reports of what has taken place because of the terrorist organisation Hamas and its supporters are horrific… the carnage is so brutal and bloody that we cannot fathom it… It was committed on these victims for… one reason only: because they were Israeli and Jewish.” 

Abigail Boyd (Greens) referred to “the atrocities committed by Israel against Palestinian civilians over the past many decades of this conflict,” adding, “the actions of the State of Israel, and the root cause of this conflict through actions by Israel as a nation-state, cannot be minimised or ignored.” She then moved an amendment that denounced “the air strikes, bombing of Palestinian civilians and taking of hostages by Israel,” added a reference to “the dropping of bombs,” changed “calls for an end to the attacks” to “calls for a ceasefire,” and changed paragraph 5 of the motion to “That this House acknowledges that to achieve peace the occupation of Palestine must end.”

The amendment was defeated with only the Greens supporting it, and the motion was then passed by the same margin.

 

VICTORIA

On Oct. 17, Premier Jacinta Allan (ALP, Bendigo East) moved that the House

“(1) unequivocally condemns the attacks on Israel by Hamas…

(2) stands with Israel and recognises its inherent right to defend itself…

(4) calls for the immediate and unconditional release of all hostages.

(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 …”

She said, “I unequivocally condemn the terror and violence we have seen these past ten days in Israel… Hamas… have consigned every single person [in Gaza] to live in terror because they hate their neighbours’ children more than they love their own.”

Opposition Leader John Pesutto (Lib., Hawthorn) said, “Israel has a right to defend itself. Israel has a right to take such action to deter future attacks… Hamas is not only an enemy of Israel, it is an enemy of the people of Gaza. The world and the Palestinian people will be better off when Hamas is completely removed, root and branch.” 

Deputy Premier Ben Carroll (ALP, Niddrie) said, “This was not an act of war against the army of an enemy. It was a slaughter of innocent people… There should be zero attempt to justify this evil. These were evil acts by a terrorist organisation – an organisation which had its founding charter and mission statement to obliterate Israel, to fight Jews and kill them.” 

National Party Leader Peter Walsh (Murray Plains) said, “Hamas is the enemy of all peace-loving Palestinian people and all Jewish people… We unreservedly support Israel’s right to defend itself and protect Israeli citizens and the Jewish people from further brutal attacks.” 

Deputy Opposition Leader David Southwick (Lib., Caulfield) said, “The Israeli government must do whatever it can to protect itself. It has an obligation to protect itself, just like we would have an obligation if we had a similar attack happen here in Australia” noting Hamas “use innocent Palestinians as human shields.”

Sam Hibbins (Greens, Prahran) said his party supported the vast majority of the motion, but felt Israel was not defending itself within the parameters of international law, so moved an amendment that replaced paragraph 2 of the motion with a paragraph condemning “war crimes perpetrated by… Israel,” calling for an immediate ceasefire, and recognising that for peace “Israel’s illegal occupation of the Palestinian territories” must end. 

The amendment lost, with only the four Greens supporting it, and the motion then passed with the same margin.

The same motion was moved simultaneously in the Legislative Council by Attorney-General Jaclyn Symes (ALP, Northern Victoria), who noted that “Hamas’s own charter makes its extremist and genocidal agenda crystal clear.” 

Greens Leader Samantha Ratnam (Northern Metropolitan) accused Israel of “a form of collective vengeance” and moved the same amendments as in the lower house.

David Ettershank (Legalise Cannabis, Western Metropolitan) said, “So this has not happened in a vacuum. Civilians will continue to pay a heavy price until Israel dismantles the system of apartheid against Palestinians, including its illegal blockade and now siege of Gaza.” 

The amendment lost, with the Greens, Legalise Cannabis and the Animal Justice Party voting in favour. The motion then passed with only the Greens opposing.

On Oct. 19, Gabrielle de Vietri (Greens, Richmond) said, “The violent colonisation of Palestine started 75 years ago. For decades Israel’s extremist government has murdered Palestinians and denied them their basic rights.”

 

SOUTH AUSTRALIA

On Oct. 17, Premier Peter Malinauskas (ALP, Croydon) moved that the House

“(a) unequivocally condemns the attacks on Israel by Hamas, which are the heinous acts of terrorists…

(b) stands with Israel and recognises its inherent right to defend itself…

(f) 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…

(g) supports justice and freedom for Israelis and Palestinians alike…

i) reiterates Australia’s consistent position in all contexts is to call for the protection of civilian lives and the observance of international law…”

The Premier said, “We condemn Hamas for their acts of indiscriminate violence and murder… The attack on Israel was unprovoked and undoubtedly necessitates a response from the state of Israel, but there is an opportunity for Israel in its response to be proportionate and contemplate the humanity that I think exists at the heart of the Israeli state generally.”

Opposition Leader David Speirs (Lib., Black) said, “I want to make it extremely clear that through this motion this house seeks, in a bipartisan fashion, to condemn what happened… in Israel and make it abundantly clear that we are with our Jewish community at this time.”

 Shadow Attorney-General Josh Teague (Lib., Heysen) said, “Israel has every right to remove Hamas. We stand with Israel in taking action to defend Israel to remove Hamas.” 

The same motion was also moved that day in the Upper House. Tammy Franks (Greens) condemned “the war crimes of Hamas” but also accused Israel of war crimes, and called for an immediate ceasefire. She moved only a minor amendment – to add “in accordance with international law” to paragraph b. This was supported and the motion as amended was carried.

 

TASMANIA

On Oct. 19, Premier Jeremy Rockliff (Lib., Braddon) moved that the house

“(1) unequivocally condemns the attacks on Israel by Hamas, which were the heinous acts of terrorists…

(2) calls for the immediate and unconditional release of all hostages…

(4) acknowledges the devastating loss of Israeli and Palestinian life”

He said, “The terrorists’ incursions, the brutality and violence… were chilling to all of us… Tasmania also condemns these terrorist attacks and all forms of violent and extremist activity… We condemn antisemitism in all of its forms, just as we condemn Islamophobia or any other form of religious hatred, discrimination or intolerance.”

Opposition Leader Rebecca White (ALP, Lyons) condemned Hamas, adding, “There is no question that Israel has the right to defend itself against a terrorist organisation and to take strong action against it, but we join the calls of President Biden and other partners for Israel to cooperate and operate by the rules of war.” 

Greens Leader Rosalie Woodruff (Franklin) said, “We have appropriately, as a country, condemned the war crimes of Hamas, and the Greens strongly support that condemnation, but we have not, as a country, condemned the crimes of war that are being practised now by Israel against civilians in the bombing and the siege of Gaza… The Israeli government’s commitment to enacting revenge on civilian populations is chilling.” She sought to amend the motion by adding to paragraph 4, “and condemns Israel’s targeted bombing and siege of innocent Gazan civilians, including children.”

Only the two Greens and an independent voted for the amendment. The motion was then agreed to.

 

QUEENSLAND

On Oct. 10, Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk (ALP, Inala) made a ministerial statement, saying, “The Queensland government condemns in the strongest possible terms the horrendous Hamas attack on Israel… the invasion was an act of terror. The killing of civilians… and the taking of hostages is abhorrent… this was an horrific attack and Israel has the right to defend itself.”

There were no motions or other speeches directly on the topic, but a few MPs took the opportunity to condemn the Hamas attack and express support for Israel while addressing a bill on hate crimes. 

On Nov. 14, Michael Berkman (Greens, Maiwar) asked the Premier during Question Time, “Israel has now killed more than 11,000 Palestinians, mostly women, children and elderly people, since its siege on Gaza began… Will the Premier join the hundreds and thousands of people across Australia who are calling not for a pause or for steps towards ceasefire but for an immediate ceasefire?” The question was ruled out of order, so wasn’t answered. 

 

WESTERN AUSTRALIA

There were also no motions on the conflict in the WA Parliament. However, on Oct. 10 Opposition Leader Shane Love (Nat., Moore) as a preface to an unrelated question to the Premier, said, “Before I ask my question to the Premier, on behalf of the opposition, I extend my thoughts to the people of Israel and the Jewish community… following the horrors of the Hamas attack… We join the Premier in providing our support to those who are suffering.” 

Premier Roger Cook (ALP, Kwinana) replied, “Our hearts go out to the people of Israel, indeed everyone affected by this conflict in Gaza and the West Bank… I think we all are appalled and shocked by the violence that we are witnessing unfolding in Israel today, and look forward to a de-escalation of the circumstances and peace coming to this troubled area.” 

On Oct. 12, Shane Love asked the Premier whether he would block a pro-Palestinian rally. In his answer, Roger Cook replied, “We all stand in solidarity with the people of Israel and are all shocked by the impact that those horrible attacks have had on their community and their nation. Indeed, we look now in horror at the loss of life across civil populations right across that region.”

Some members also made speeches about the conflict. 

On Oct. 12, Parliamentary Secretary Simon Millman (ALP, Mount Lawley) said, “I stand today to unreservedly condemn the abhorrent and brutal acts of terror carried out by Hamas in Israel. It seems that each new media report carries details of an even more unspeakable horror, prompting international condemnation.” 

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