Nov 30, 2015

Motion on ISIL & our country’s involement in Syria & Iraq – 30 Nov 2015

I rise to support the member of Sydney’s motion:

That this House calls on the Minister for Foreign Affairs to support a parliamentary debate during the current sitting on the Australian Government’s strategy in response to the crisis in Syria and Iraq.
That motion was moved by the deputy leader and acting leader of the Labor Party on 19 October this year. Much has happened since then.

The reason why I am supporting—and so strongly supporting—the member for Sydney’s motion is that I have always had the most profound belief that this House, this chamber, is where our collective voices and the voices of the people are heard. They are heard in another way collectively: through a federal election. That federal election empowers us, the 150 members of the House of Representatives and the 76 senators—less so the 76 senators and more so the 150 members of the House of Representatives—to act as their voice, to contemplate the issues of the day, to have the serious debates that need to be had in this place and in the life of the country. We are having this discussion—and I welcome the Father of the House, who is about to make a contribution to this debate. We do so—and I think it is instructive to talk about this point—in a torrent of social media: of Twitter, of Facebook, of Google, of YouTube. Many voices are being heard in different fora. Our voice in this place should be able to be heard equally. Our voice in this place should be the one that sets the tone for all of those other debates that occur, because we have been elected by the millions of Australian people to be their voice—to have the discussions about the big issues of the day.

What we are confronting overseas in Iraq and Syria at present, 16 months after ISIL declared that they were a self-appointed caliphate in Syria and Iraq, is almost the largest issue of all. I say that from personal experience because, as I have said in this chamber on a number of occasions, on 23 September 2014, ISIL motivated terrorism came to our shores and to Endeavour Hills—literally almost to my doorstep—in the attacks on two brave police officers by an ISIL inspired young person who was then killed by a police officer. Subsequent to that there has been a thwarted Anzac Day attack. I do not want to go into the details of what was proposed in that attack but, had that attack been successful, it would have had a profound impact on our national psyche. That is what these attacks are designed to do. Interestingly, I was looking at ISIL activity after that date—after 23 September—did you know, Deputy Speaker, that there were 59 ISIL-related terrorist attacks in 16 countries during and after 23 September? We are talking about an ideology that is as dangerous, in my view, as communism—and I have said this on 7.30. We are talking about a self-declared caliphate that needs to be removed and exterminated. This source—this contagion—if not dealt with by the international community cohesively, cogently and diligently; if not uprooted, eradicated and destroyed, will extend its ideology to the furthest corners of the globe. You can see the manifestation of that ideology in Yemen and in other places, in other portions of the Middle East, and in Africa. It is a force for the most dangerous transmission of a political idea since communism.

As the international community, we have an obligation to remove it, notwithstanding all of the other conturbations and conniptions of other countries around ISIL and where it is based. It is our obligation as a civilised community to remove this stain from humanity. It is our obligation as an international community to take this poison away from the well of the Middle East, which is already contaminated by too many hatreds and by bitterness. It is our obligation to have a discussion in this place about this and about how we do this—in a measured, even and bipartisan way. We cannot leave it for people on social media to have that discussion for us. It is not for them to determine what course of action we should take; it is for our sovereign parliament. We are elected to have these discussions on behalf of the community. That is why I think we need to continue this discussion, and that is why I strongly support the motion moved by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition.

 

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