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Tuesday, 4 November 2003
Page: 22008

Mr DANBY (9:28 PM) —This week, the little-known Sydney Peace Institute is presenting an award to Hanan Ashrawi. I understand that the Premier of New South Wales is obliged to present these kinds of awards, and the Premier undertook to do this before he was aware of who the award recipient was. I make no criticism of the Premier for doing this; he is doing what any state leader would do in the circumstances. I do, however, defend the right of people to make criticisms of any awards under any circumstances. I do think that, in light of the non-progress of peace in the Middle East, it is a little odd to pick out someone from that part of the world for an award of $50,000 and for the plaudits of the people of Sydney at this particular time.

I am saddened by the fact that this occasion has been used by some people in the media, in the arts and in politics to criticise those who disagree with Hanan Ashrawi. Some of the criticism has been, in terms similar to those used by Dr Mahathir, of some sinister, evil and secretive lobby. Let me tell those critics that people who have different views from theirs on the Middle East, including the Australian Jewish community, are allowed—as any other Australian citizen is allowed—to make criticisms of the awarding of peace prizes to people like Dr Ashrawi or anyone else. Dr Ashrawi has a very mixed record. I agreed with Justice Marcus Einfeld when he said that he was very disappointed by her role in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Anyone who wants to see a definitive view on these things should read Justice Einfeld's view on this: he knows her better than any other Australian. It is very sad that we are not getting genuine progress for peace in the Middle East. We need to support Palestinians and Israelis who do genuinely support the road map—

The SPEAKER —Order! It being 9.30 p.m., the debate is interrupted.

House adjourned at 9.30 p.m.