Israel and Australia

Keeping Kids Safe has become one of the toughest challenges confronting parents today, particularly when it comes to keeping kids safe online. The previous Coalition Government worked hard to address the scourge of child safety, abuse and sexual exploitation. In Opposition, my colleagues, my local team, and I have not stopped in the fight for practical solutions and to hold porn, gambling and organised crime groups to account.

Important to back Israel all the way after Hamas horrors (Courier Mail, 20/12/23)

Last week I left the raucous debate and busyness of Parliament to get a first-hand look at the war raging in Israel.

I had viewed the raw footage from terrorists’ helmet cameras before I’d left. I’d seen the evidence of the worst forms of barbarity that a human being can suffer at the hands of another.

But the sights, sounds and smells will never be forgotten.

The roar of fighter jets and Apache gunships overhead and the reverberations of nearby 155mm artillery were a stark reminder of the Israeli Defence Force’s commitment to destroy Hamas and the evil it continues to wage.

The attacks on Kfar Aza and other towns and kibbutz like them weren’t attacks on military targets.

Hamas terrorists murdered ordinary mums, dads, kids, and babies early on that Saturday morning of October 7 with a barbarity that beggars belief. The attacks were well orchestrated for maximum effect, in multiple places by as many as 3000 terrorists going door to door, with automatic weapons, grenades and rocket-propelled grenades.

Almost every house I saw bore the scars of the attacks, with windows and doors shot out and large sections of rendered brick facade lying in rubble, reminiscent of scenes of occupied France in WWII.

A few kilometres down the road Hamas militants invaded the town of Sderot, which is just 1.5km from the Gaza border.

In Sderot, Hamas murdered nearly 20 police officers at the local station and butchered civilians on the streets. One woman told me how she cradled her young daughter on the floor of their bomb shelter for 10 hours, until the IDF found them. 

Fear of continued attacks has driven 90 per cent of the nearly 37,000 residents of Sderot from their homes, and hundreds of thousands in the south and north have similarly been evacuated to overcrowded emergency accommodation in relatively “safer” towns and cities.

It’s Israel’s young soldiers who responded in the early hours of October 7. Outmanned, outgunned and without clear direction from their superiors, young Israeli reservists drove toward the gunfire armed with little more than their service side-arm, social media and their mobile phone to co-ordinate their movements between them.

These young reservists slowed the advance of Hamas until the IDF were able to mobilise their regular forces, which unbelievably took many hours.

These were young people like 19-year-old soldier Roni Eshel, whose unit first reported the breaches and resultant attacks. It took five weeks to identify her body because of the terrorists’ use of incendiary weapons.

Her colleagues were either shot on site or kidnapped, only to be raped, tortured, and executed, some in the El Shifa Hospital in Gaza.

Every drop of civilian blood is on the hands of Hamas, Hezbollah, Iran, and their allies.

Yet the response, from the UN to the schools and streets of Australia, would have you believe otherwise.

Even in my community, misinformed protesters have called for fighting to end, blaming Israel for the lives lost. Some use vile antisemitic slurs like “from the river to the sea” alongside “always was, always will be”, with no sense of the hurt caused or the irony. They’ve plastered social media and streetsides with both Nazi symbols and ceasefire demands.

Ask yourself who celebrated the attacks on October 7: Iran, Islamic extremists, white supremacists, Russia. Are these the beacons of tolerance and peace among which social justice activists really want to associate themselves?

Protesters fail to recognise that this war was started by Hamas, Hezbollah and Iran on October 7. A ceasefire now only helps Hamas and Hezbollah to regroup.

Protesters call for a proportionate response. What is proportionate? Should Israel pick 1200 men, women and children to murder, rape and torture? Should the IDF abduct 250 Palestinians?

The only reasonable response to this evil attack is to dismantle the terror network which has for so long threatened Israel’s right to exist.

Up until this week, Australia has backed Israel’s right to defend itself. Yet Prime Minister Anthony Albanese decided to break with decades of bipartisanship and support calls for a ceasefire at the UN.

In doing so, his government has sided with those who want to see Israel annihilated – abandoning our only democratic partner in the Middle East.

Albanese's doctrine of willful blindness on Israel (Israel Hayom, 17/01/24)

Only a short drive from where, over a century ago, Australia’s 4th Light Horse Brigade freed the people of Beersheba, Hamas launched the worst single-day massacre against the Jews since Hitler’s Holocaust.

While Jewish families observed Simchat Torah, Hamas launched over 3,000 rockets in just 20 minutes on an unsuspecting civilian population. 3,000 Hamas militants stormed southern Israel including communities like Sderot and kibbutzim like Kfar Aza and Be’eri.

Penny Wong’s decision to visit Israel, and yet bypass these sites of the most tragic Jewish pogrom since WWII isn’t just a serious error of judgment. It isn’t just half-hearted. It demonstrates what has become the core tenet of the Albanese-Wong foreign policy platform: wilful blindness.

I’ve seen these sites and not just the footage of them. I’ve walked where children’s blood mingled with the sweat of first responders and the tears of loved ones left behind. I’ve smelt the death, decay, and destruction in families’ homes. I’ve heard the bullets and bombs, and the grievous wails of heartbroken mothers. You can’t begin to understand the gravity and evil which confronted Israel on October 7 without visiting; without a first-hand account.

Take some of the worst massacres in our recent history. You couldn’t grasp the tragedy and trauma of the Bosnian Genocide without visiting Srebrenica, where Slobodan Milošević slaughtered 8,372 Bosniaks 29 years ago. You’d need to visit the jungles of eastern Cambodia to understand the barbarity of the Khmer Rouge. You’d need to visit Gikondo in Kigali to really comprehend the way Hutu Power tore Rwanda apart, massacring Pallottine worshipers as they cradled children in their arms.

Much like Israeli mums in their homes at Kfar Aza. Like the students dancing at a music festival in Re’im. Like the police officers getting ready for another day at work in Sderot. The fact that Penny Wong is refusing to visit these towns in southern Israel is wilful blindness on a whole new level.

But we shouldn’t be surprised.

Not since the days of Whitlam has an Australian Government been so reckless, witless, and gutless in its foreign policy. They turn a blind eye to existential threats. They slash funding to crucial projects. And when our allies call for cooperation and courage, Each Way Albo and Penny Wong offer politics and platitudes. Protecting Australians and their interests at home and abroad is the number one priority of any government.

For two years, at every critical juncture, Labor has squandered the opportunity to do just that. Once again, Labor is choosing to look the other way. Wilful blindness. It’s the hallmark of the Albanese-Wong Doctrine. While allies called for assistance to defend the Red Sea, Labor turned from the fight, until just days ago.

While allies call for investment in space capabilities, Labor has slashed billions of dollars without warning or explanation, putting our nation and its reputation at risk.  North Korea tests a hypersonic missile. The Chinese PLA-Navy injures Australian soldiers. The UN continues its systemic campaign against Israel. Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps puts Australia on notice. Cyberattacks and ransomware are becoming more prevalent day by day. And our defense force demands more personnel and support. And yet we have no acknowledgment, let alone action on any of these issues. This Labor Government is wilfully blind to the threats facing Australians and our allies, and lives will be lost as a result.

Whether their heads are in the sand or in the clouds, it’s become clear that their heads are just not in the game. With the world edging closer to war, we cannot neglect our defensive and offensive capabilities, or the alliances on which we rely.

75 years ago this year, Stalin and the Soviet Media launched a savage campaign against the Jewish people. At the same time, they backed Mao Zedong while his forces stormed Taiwan and the Chinese Mainland, killing 1.5 million people. In the same year, NATO and The Commonwealth were born in an effort to defend democracy and fight for freedom, with Australian support.

In the face of isolationism and extremism, we can’t follow the ebbs and flows of trend or opinion. We cannot stay on the fence.

Unfortunately, we have a government too afraid to stand up for what’s right when the going gets tough, and too cowardly to face our geopolitical reality.

Gone are the days of Chifley and Menzies, Attlee and Churchill, FDR and Truman. Gone are the days of aspirational multilateralism and institutional trust.

The world needs Australian moral leadership, and Australia needs decisive leadership. And yet, when the call comes, Airbus Albo and Penny Wong are nowhere to be found. Instead, we have a government wilfully blind.

The reality is that what happens in Tehran, Taiwan, and Tel Aviv affects Australians in every walk of life. If it affects us, we must play a part in making consequential decisions.

75 years ago, Labor’s Ben Chifley said, “In the troubled state of international relations today, there is an obligation on all to participate actively in the struggle for the maintenance of world peace and security”.

Active participation in the struggle for peace is what Australians expect of their government still. But Labor remains wilfully blind and selectively deaf to Australians’ expectations. I suspect Chifley would be ashamed of what his party has become.

Speeches & Media