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Thursday, 23 November 1995
Page: 3690


Mr SINCLAIR —Like the Prime Minister (Mr Keating), the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Howard), the Leader of the National Party of Australia (Mr Tim Fischer) and my other colleagues I would like to add a few words to this motion—for three reasons. The first is that the death of a world leader leaves a gap that is inevitably hard to fill. When a man like Yitzhak Rabin, who had contributed so much in war and in peace, is assassinated by one of his fellow countrymen,

how great that gap is and how profound the loss.

  The second reason is that Australia is now very much a cosmopolitan and multinational society. We no longer are oriented in one direction and we are not just oriented within ourselves. We very much face outwards. So many people of Jewish origin have contributed so much to this development.

  Sir Asher Joel, a very distinguished Jewish leader in our society, was a parliamentary colleague during my early days in politics. He was one of those who took me under his wing. From him I learnt not only of the extent to which the Jewish people have made a contribution to our society in Australia, but how a people who have suffered for so long and to such a great degree have contributed to making Israel the strong, solid, independent state that it is today. Yitzhak Rabin was the leader who gave them that momentum towards future peace which had been so long denied.

  The third reason is that it is particularly appropriate that we have a condolence motion within this parliament. It is hard for us who come from afar to pass judgment on matters in the Middle East; yet over many years Australian service personnel have served in that part of the world. On my one and only visit to Israel I came across the Red Sea, through the Sinai, through the West Bank, through Tel Aviv and into Jerusalem. Each one of those paths that I crossed were paths on which Australian soldiers had fought successively throughout this century. There are avenues of eucalypts in the Sinai.

  Australians have contributed greatly to the growth and development of Israel. Even though Israel is a country that seems so far away and is in a theatre of the world with which we have no immediate geographic contact, it is one with which we have a very strong personal contact. Israel is therefore a country that means a great deal to Australians.

  As a soldier Yitzhak Rabin contributed a great deal towards the creation of the state of Israel and its maintenance. But then he gave it so much more as Prime Minister—through the Oslo accords and through the negotiation of the peace agreements with Jordan, with Yasser Arafat and with Palestine. I believe that the hope Rabin provided will remain as the principal symbol of his life. To his country, to those very distinguished Australians who are members of the Jewish faith, to the people of Israel and to Yitzhak Rabin's family, I too would like to extend my deepest sympathy.