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Speech: Stop Military Exports to Israel

The Hon. T.A. FRANKS: I rise today to reflect on Australia exporting weapons to Israel during the current conflict. Over recent months the state of Israel's attacks on Gaza have killed over 29,313 Palestinians and injured some 69,333 innocent people since 7 October 2023, the majority of those being women and children.

Hospitals have been destroyed, schools have been destroyed, places of worship have been destroyed, and those acts amount to illegal collective punishment and war crimes. Literally, babies are currently dying in hospitals of dehydration and malnutrition as the new weapons of war wreak their terrible effect.

After 7 October, the Palestinians were respectful when the Israeli colours lit up this parliament and, quite rightly, the Israeli colours were shown as a sign of solidarity and support for the Jewish and Israeli community in this state. But what have we seen in recent months? A refusal to acknowledge the pain, the trauma, and the loss of loved ones, of family members, of the Palestinian community in South Australia.

We have not seen this parliament lit up in Palestinian colours to reflect those tens of thousands who have been lost, some of whom are directly family members, friends and loved ones of South Australian community members. What we have seen is the fuelling of conflict through exporting military equipment, which only of course continues the violence at a time when our world is desperately calling for a ceasefire.

Experts from the United Nations, including Ben Saul, Special Rapporteur on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms while Countering Terrorism, has said:

International law does not enforce itself. All States must not be complicit in international crimes through arms transfers. They must do their part to urgently end the unrelenting humanitarian catastrophe in Gaza.

Since the Albanese government came into office in May 2022, they have signed fresh or extended contracts worth over $300 million with the Israeli defence industry for military equipment for the Australian Defence Force. That includes at least $18 million of contracts that were signed after Israel's invasion of Gaza in October last year—$18 million worth of contracts.

We are literally sending Australian taxpayers' money to support the very corporations that are benefitting from the genocide in Gaza. We are buying equipment, like SPIKE missiles from Rafael Advanced Defense Systems, for example. These are missiles that have been tested on the population of Gaza for decades, missiles recently used to kill journalists in Lebanon and missiles designed to penetrate the concrete walls of Palestinian apartment buildings and send shrapnel through the rooms to kill every occupant.

Numerous human rights organisations have called for a two-way arms embargo with the state of Israel but, instead, Australia is selling military equipment to Israel. Meanwhile, the Albanese government, led in this case by the foreign minister, is gaslighting Australians, saying that we have sent no weapons to Israel for five years, and that her own department figures are in error and that there is nothing to see here. Well, to quote my federal Greens colleague in the Senate, the Hon. David Shoebridge:

This is the kind of response we would expect from George Orwell's ministry of truth, where war is peace, slavery is freedom, ignorance is strength, and weapons are tennis racquets.

According to figures from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, between 2017 and 2022 Australia directly exported to Israel over $13 million worth of arms and ammunition. This will likely be only a small amount of equipment contained within the 350 military export permits between Australia and Israel over the past five years. Australia's role in exporting arms material to Israel must be exposed, must be acknowledged and must be ended. The goal, of course, is a just and lasting peace for Palestinians and Israelis alike, and to do that we have to stop the export of arms and the senseless cycle of violence.

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