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Thursday, 1 December 1983
Page: 3230


Mr SPENDER(10.10) —I came into this House just as the honourable member for Kalgoorlie (Mr Campbell) was half way through his comments in the grievance debate. As I understand it, he was complaining about the position in which the Palestine Liberation Organisation presently finds itself. That is indeed a matter of grief and I would have thought a matter of great grief to the inhabitants of Tripoli. Let us look at the PLO because it is said to be the representative of the Palestinian people. It is an umbrella organisation and the major part of it is made up by an organisation called Fatah. Mr Arafat has been the head of this umbrella organisation and the head of Fatah for many years. It is said that the PLO is representative of the Palestinians. Who elected the PLO? Who elected Mr Arafat. Where is the Morgan gallup poll which tells us of the views of the Palestinian citizens? I have been to Syria. I have met with representatives of the PLO and I must confess that I had a different view then from the one that I have now.

Let us look at the present position. It is put by the honourable member for Kalgoorlie in a sort of tortured conspiracy theory that there is an unholy alliance between Israel, Syria and the United States of America to destroy the PLO-an alliance between Syria and Israel, an alliance between Syria and the United States. He should know, if he has the least understanding of the background of the PLO and what has happened in the Middle East in the last few years, that Syria has, to a very large extent, controlled the PLO and has done so by controlling the armoured forces of the PLO which largely have been stationed in Syria. Now we have a split in the PLO and apparently we are meant to sympathise with what has taken place. We are meant to sympathise with the civil war between two contenders for leadership in the PLO. We are meant to sympathise with those who have brought bloodshed, death and disaster to Tripoli. Who asked the PLO into Tripoli? Who asked Mr Arafat to go to Tripoli? Who were the people in Tripoli who said: 'Yes, we welcome you and we welcome your attackers and you may fight over us to the last drop of our blood'? It is incredible that in these circumstances the leaders of the PLO have shown themselves to be so ill-concerned with the lives of others that they are willing to have Tripoli reduced to rubble so that they can fight out their political differences. It is incredible that we in this House are asked to sympathise with those people.

Let us ask the Government two questions. Perhaps it can come and give us the answer to those questions. First of all, does it support these actions? Does it support what has happended in Tripoli? Does it support the murder, the killing of innocent civilians? Does it support the destruction of that city? Secondly, are we going to have representatives of the PLO here? If so, who will they be and what purpose will they serve? What purpose for the Australian people will they serve? It is about time the Government faced up to these kinds of questions , and for the honourable member for Kalgoorlie to come in here with this futile left wing pap about the PLO and to say nothing about the people who have been harmed, to say nothing about the rights of the people in Tripoli, is to disregard the truth and to disregard present history. Whatever the PLO may have set for itself in the past it has disgraced and dishonoured its objectives by the way in which it has behaved towards the inhabitants of Tripoli just as the honourable member for Casey (Mr Steedman) has disgraced himself by making allegations against a man here in Parliament who cannot answer. When he is making allegations against one of the members of this side of the House he should give him notice so that he can come back here and answer. In passing, the honourable member for Kalgoorlie said that the honourable member for Bruce had compiled a 50-page report which the Australian Federal Police had rejected. He obviously has a high regard for the police force and he obviously assumes that they are right at all times. I do not know. I did not read the document. The honourable member is obviously on the side of the police at all times. I have found sometimes the police err.