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Thursday, 24 June 2010
Page: 6685

Ms VAMVAKINOU (10:45 AM) —I rise to table a further 3,338 signatures to add to the petition I presented to the House of Representatives on Monday night. This ongoing petition is about the inclusion of the modern Greek language in the national curriculum that is currently being developed by the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority. This petition has been approved by the Standing Committee on Petitions. This brings the number of signatures collected so far to 22,105.

The petition read as follows—

To the Honourable The Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives

This petition of Certain citizens of Australia including representatives of community, educational, political organisations, institutions and establishments across the country

draws to the attention of the House: The matter of the importance of including the Modern Greek language in the National Schools Curriculum as a language of cultural, community, historical and economic importance to Australia and the Australian people.

We therefore ask the House to: Ensure that the Modern Greek language is included in the National Schools Curriculum currently being developed by the Australian Curriculum and Reporting Authority.

from 3,338 citizens

Petition received.

On another matter, on Tuesday night the Parliamentary Friends of Palestine, in conjunction with Australians for Palestine and the Australian Friends of Palestine Association, hosted a dinner for visiting international guest Ms Diana Buttu. It was a highly successful evening that was attended by MPs and senators from all sides of politics, by many Arab ambassadors and by representatives of the church community. Diana Buttu is a lawyer, political analyst, advocate and former negotiator and spokesperson for the Palestine Liberation Organisation’s Negotiation Support Unit, and she has assisted in the litigation brought to the International Court of Justice in The Hague, which resulted in the landmark opinion against Israel’s wall in occupied Palestine.

During her speech Diana talked about the history of the peace process and negotiations between Israel and Palestine, which despite efforts have failed to achieve any real progress. It is Diana’s view, and increasingly the view of many, including me, that the international community must now adopt measures to begin holding Israel accountable for its actions—actions that have largely thwarted any real progress. Such accountability must involve accountability for Israel’s continued settlement expansions in occupied Palestine; for the continued occupation of Palestine; for the wall which has turned the West Bank into tiny cantons or open-air prisons; for the stranglehold placed on freedom of movement for the Palestinian people; for Israel’s collective punishment of the Palestinians in Gaza through its ongoing embargo; for the recent attack on the freedom flotilla; for its policy on the acquisition of Palestinian water supplies; for its lack of genuine commitment to seeking a just and viable peace in accordance with international law, a policy which fails to deliver for its own citizens the peace and security that they so desperately want; and finally for the inflammatory doctrine of its own foreign minister, Avigdor Lieberman, which calls for:

… a populated land swap rather than … land for peace.

The international community now needs to do more than just encourage this peace process; it must begin to hold Israel accountable for policies and actions that violate the human rights of the Palestinian people. It is time to put international law at the heart of these peace talks.