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Wednesday, 27 June 2018
Page: 4185

Senator DI NATALE (VictoriaLeader of the Australian Greens) (16:53): This chamber deals with many matters that are contentious and complicated. In fact, we just had a vote on something particularly contentious and contested: the issue of end-of-life care and physician-assisted dying. We did that just a moment ago. We will continue to debate matters in this chamber and vote on matters in this chamber that are contentious and complicated. So we don't support denying leave on that basis. If you don't like the motion that's in front of you, don't vote for it; it's simple. If you've got concerns about a motion, just don't support it. If you agree with the sentiment behind a motion, support it. It is an opportunity for us to put on the record our various positions on these matters. Regarding the way denying leave has been used, if we agree with your position, it's not a complicated foreign policy issue; if we don't agree with your position, then it is a complicated foreign policy issue. We don't support denying leave simply on the basis of something being contentious, complicated or, indeed, contested.

I go to the substance of Senator Anning's motion and his disgraceful contribution. To be frank, saying to this chamber that the reason that a political party in this place won't support a particular motion is that they are appealing to one group of the community or are dictated to by one group of the community is repugnant and offensive. I'd much rather, as the leader of a political party, that we embrace people from all faiths, all religions and all backgrounds, with the one exception of the bigots from One Nation and the former One Nation senators. The reality is that the motion by Senator Anning is all about undermining Australia's aid program.

We heard the contribution from Senator Georgiou just a moment ago. He doesn't believe that there's any role for Australia to advocate for human rights or support people who are condemned to a life of poverty overseas. In condemning Australia's aid program and undermining the US, Senator Anning and One Nation senators don't support international aid, full stop. They don't support it. They continue in the long tradition of individuals who don't understand that we are all global citizens and we have a responsibility to our brothers and sisters right around the world to do what we can and to acknowledge the privilege that many of us enjoy in this country. We can look after people here in Australia. That's why the Greens have continued to advocate for an increase to Newstart and why we want to address issues like homelessness here in Australia. We can also extend the support we can give to people living overseas.

This undermines the important work of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency. I'm sure Senator Anning hasn't done his research, but, if he bothered to look, he'd know that the agency supports 5.3 million Palestinian refugees; it provides food aid to 400,000 people in Syria and one million in Gaza; and it's now facing an unprecedented funding gap, thanks to the decision of President Trump to slash US contributions. We are now weeks away from cutting emergency assistance to men, women and children—people who are living in a displaced environment; people who are struggling to feed themselves and put a roof over their heads. Now is the time to redouble our efforts to support international assistance, regardless of the circumstances, and now is the time to support the UNRWA and not criticise it.