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Wednesday, 25 June 2014
Page: 7332


Mr CLARE (Blaxland) (13:33): The parliament is still reeling from the decision of an Egyptian court on Monday night and the sentences it handed down to Australian journalist Peter Greste and his two Al Jazeera colleagues Mohamed Fahmy and Baher Mohamed. I think we are all still in shock. I am sure I speak for all Australians when I say that this just does not make sense. Peter Greste is a journalist, and journalism is not a crime. These men have been locked up just for doing their jobs.

Our hearts go out to them and to Peter's mum and dad, who have shown such stoicism and grace in such awful circumstances, and to Peter's brothers, Andrew and Mike, who are doing what we would all hope any brother would do—standing right beside him when he needs them most. He also needs us. As the Leader of the Opposition has said, Labor will do everything that we can to assist the government in securing Peter's release.

As the Minister for Foreign Affairs said the other night, 'This kind of verdict does nothing to support Egypt's claim to be on a transition to democracy.' She is right. Freedom of the press is a non-negotiable part of any democratic nation. For Egypt to be a democratic country, freedom of the press must be protected, and that means that Peter Greste and his colleagues must be released. As Peter's dad said yesterday, 'This man, our son Peter, is an award winning journalist, he is not a criminal.' He should be arriving home and into his parent's arms and not in a maximum security cell in Cairo, and it is our responsibility to work together towards that end. (Time expired)