MPI - Israeli Embassy

MATTER OF PUBLIC IMPORTANCE - HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

I thank the member for Fadden for confirming for us that a shambolic, contentious decision was made by the former government. It certainly was, and it was made cynically for domestic political purposes. That's the only way the Australian public can possibly read the decision that was taken by the former government. It's the only way they can read it, because—unlike many of the members here today who will be speaking on this, and the very raucous members during question time when, on budget day, this was the first question asked—many Australians are students of history. When it comes to the two-state solution and to the creation of the State of Israel, many Australians understand the history because they have lived it. Australians understand that, when it came to that vote at the United Nations, Australia was the first country to vote yes for the creation of the State of Israel.

Australians understand that the question of Jerusalem has been respected as something that will be determined as a status issue, because it is the most contentious thing and could have gotten in the way of peace talks and finding a workable two-state solution. So everybody has respected that over decades. People on that side and people on this side, whether in government or in opposition, have respected that that was what common sense asked for, not just in this country but around the world.

But then along came Prime Minister Morrison, who decided to throw that out the window and make a shambolic, contentious decision five days out from a by-election, on the advice of the candidate running in that by-election for the Liberal Party—absolute cynicism. I welcome the fact that today we are here so that we can put back on the record Australia's support for a two-state solution and for the fact that the question of Jerusalem is a status issue that will be dealt with by the parties involved. This will put us back in line with most other countries.

We shouldn't be surprised that former Prime Minister Morrison made this shambolic, contentious decision. After all, he's also the first Australian Prime Minister to give himself five portfolios. There were things that that Prime Minister did that appeared to the Australian public to be on a whim, to not be thought through and to not be considered in terms of the ramifications—only short-termism. There was no thought given to what would happen with the change of government, even though Labor's stated position was clear. There was no thought given to what that would mean—just short-term politics, trying to get a short-term edge in a by-election.

This is our foreign policy. Decades of Australian foreign ministers and prime ministers have agreed on this position. But we shouldn't be surprised, because the previous government did several things in foreign affairs across nine years that were of concern to Australians, including Australians travelling overseas, who notice these things. I noticed them myself in visiting countries in Asia. There were no signs about Australian aid anywhere— all gone, whereas, 10 years previously, Australian aid had been front and centre in our region. We were respected. We were seen as helpful. This government is committed to ensuring that a sensible foreign minister, a sensible prime minister and a sensible government will put Australia back into the right places in foreign affairs and regain the respect that we held for decades internationally, not just on this issue but on many others. It was shambolic and contentious, and Labor will not make shambolic and contentious decisions like the former Prime Minister Scott Morrison.

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