Palestine

Ms CHAPMAN ( BraggDeputy Leader of the Opposition) (11:26): I rise to speak on the now amended motion of the member for Light, and I indicate that, as he has been newly elected as the co-convener with me of the Parliamentary Friends of Palestine, I publicly acknowledge that and congratulate him on that appointment. I thank him for stepping forward to deal with what is a continued difficulty, at the very least, which is the kindest way I can describe it, in respect of the plight of Palestinians, which, as outlined by other speakers, has occurred over a number of decades.

In speaking to this amended motion, whilst I think it has increased its acceptability for a public debate in respect of how we might contribute as South Australians to this circumstance, it is an improvement, but in my view it still falls short, and it falls short for a number of reasons. Can I firstly say why it does not fall short. Some will say it is an unacceptable situation where our parliament, as South Australians, should be spending its time in dealing with something that is within the purview and ultimate determinant of the commonwealth government and/or commonwealth government and therefore it should not be a subject of discussion in this parliament. I do not agree with that approach. 

Whilst the ultimate jurisdiction as to contribution is one for the commonwealth parliament, as it is described (I have heard it called the federal government and parliament), it is not a matter that we should shy from in the sense of our discussion about a contribution on a debate. We have done it before in this chamber. We have looked at international issues of concern. We have dealt with contributions in respect of federal law where there is urging, from time to time, for a certain position to be taken. So I do not argue that. I see that as narrow and legalistic, and I do not think that it helps to achieve the aim. 

I am concerned for the people of Palestine and the circumstances in which many of them now live, within a walled city, and that is a matter that needs to be recognised and understood. I have maintained, and perhaps it is because of one's age, which is ever-advancing, that we are around for a long time. We have seen this before. We have seen circumstances in which we have taken up a contribution to policy debate. I was not old enough to understand or appreciate the significance of the establishment of Israel post-World War II and the circumstances surrounding it. However, we have read a lot about it and we have, as other speakers have said, understood that there has been a level of persecution and a level of concern that have continued, particularly arising out of the circumstances of the Jewish people under German occupation in Poland, Germany and other areas that we need to appreciate in the circumstance of it. 

I was old enough in the 1960s to see on my family's newly acquired television set in black and white, just before man walked on the moon, the repeated plight in respect of Northern Ireland and the IRA. The PLO was also a dominant political feature in respect of this issue in the 1960s, which I am old enough to remember. In the 1960s, persons older than me went off to war to save the protection of the South Vietnamese. In the 1970s, we quickly learned about the Turkish occupation in Cyprus. I remember attending many meetings and occasions in relation to supporting the abolition of apartheid in South Africa and the establishment of the International Criminal Court, which was high on the agenda for law students of that era. 

In the 1980s, we worked on freeing the people of East Germany in the building of the Berlin Wall and, in particular, the bringing down of the wall. We worked on the establishment of democratic government in Mongolia and the development of its constitution. In the 1990s, we went on to deal with the plight, more locally, of the Timorese people in Indonesia. There have been others since. Throughout all of this, the issue in respect of the Palestinians in the Middle East has not resolved. It is a matter that we have to continue to be apprised of, to deal with and to advocate, and we have to listen carefully to how it might best be remedied. 

Through successive governments of different political persuasions, Australia's position has been to have a two-state solution. I have to say it has been a moving feast in recent decades as to how that is to be applied and how it should be advanced; nevertheless, that has been and remains our country's position. I think if we are to move away from that by means of this type of motion to try to effectively bring about an advance of that process, then we need to do it in a managed manner. This is not the way to do it. 

I have advised the member for Light how disappointed I am that we have advanced in that manner. I have pointed out to him that his own federal Leader of the Opposition, Mr Bill Shorten, has taken a view that his preferred position (I do not know whether it will change at the Labor conference at the end of next year) is that Labor should adhere to the existing position and withhold diplomatic recognition until the two-state solution is actually reached, not the reverse. 

Similarly, Mr Kim Beazley, a former Labor leader, has taken a different view. He says that it is important, for the Palestinians themselves and for those of us who understand the significance of their plight, that they deal with the hard questions in the arena with them and deal with the status of East Jerusalem. By no means is it an easy issue. To simply amend this motion to make a provision calling upon the commonwealth government essentially to recognise the state of Palestine and announce conditions and time lines is not the way to go. In fact, we should be looking at how we advance and ensure the management of this in a structured way that is not just going to cause further discourse. 

I think it is reasonable, and I think that all political parties need to address these issues. I commend the Australian Labor Party convention organisers for at least starting the dialogue in relation to that, but I make the point that we are far way from it. I think that we would fracture the advances that have been made in respect of the two-state solution, and I think that it would, unfortunately, spiral down into further discourse about what have been continued attempts in the communities in South Australia to advance the cause of the people of Palestine. 

I particularly want to thank those from AFOPA and those who have provided material and briefings to the parliament. In relation to the new Center for Islam, I am not particularly happy with the word 'center' being spelled in the American way, but I am ever hopeful that they might actually amend that. The Minister for Education agrees with me, too. We do need to do that. It is with a heavy heart that we are not advancing something that is not going to be productive here, but at least let us have a discussion about it and, hopefully, this morning it can be addressed.