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Monday, 18 March 2013
Page: 2459

Mr PERRETT (Moreton) (10:44): I rise today to speak about the supporters of Palestine in my electorate of Moreton and their connection, especially, to the Australia Palestine Advocacy Network—APAN. I am proud to say that a few Saturday nights ago Moreton hosted a sell-out APAN fundraising dinner at Michael's Oriental Restaurant, where the joint chairs of the Federal Parliamentary Friends of Palestine, Maria Vamvakinou, the member for Calwell, and Susan Ley, the member for Farrer, both spoke very well about recent efforts and challenges facing Palestine. Whilst I was the first person to pay for this fundraising dinner, unfortunately at the last minute circumstances conspired such that I could not be there on the night, but I am reliably informed by the many friends and supporters who did attend that the master of ceremonies, Mr Anas Abdalla, introduced Dr Halim Rane, who spoke about his latest book on Australian-Israeli-Palestine foreign policy. I know Dr Rane well, for nearly 10 years, back before he obtained his PhD at Griffith University under Mohammed Abdullah. One of the other members of the APAN executive, Mr David Forde, also spoke on the role of APAN and the need for greater political advocacy on behalf of Palestinians. I have also known Mr Forde for over a decade—and I say happy St Patrick's Day to him because he is Irish; in fact he was with the Irish Army as a peacekeeper in the Middle East. He is also a very active member of the Sunnybank RSL and APAN.

APAN was formed in May 2011 to provide a national voice for Australians who are concerned about ongoing human rights abuses and occupation issues endured by Palestinians, along with the continuing effects of dispossession and displacement suffered by Palestinian refugees. It is a broad range of people and I particularly mention Wendy Turner, who I have known for over a decade as well. She used to work for my campaign manager Karen Struthers. APAN is a diverse alliance of religious leaders, unions, academics, lawyers, former politicians, Palestinians, Jewish people, peace groups and diplomats and many others. APAN seeks a more balanced and principled approach from the Australian government in its policies towards the Israel-Palestinian conflict. It seeks a more active role for Australia in encouraging all interested parties to bring about a just and lasting negotiated settlement based on UN resolutions and international norms.

In April last year, under the leadership of the President of the Senate John Hogg, I was lucky enough to visit some of the Palestinian territories. Sadly, we did not go to Gaza, and it would have been good to have gone to Beersheba because we were around there on Anzac Day, but I did see the dividing wall and saw how it affects communities. APAN offers a voice for all Australians of goodwill who wish to express their opposition to the continuation of the current situation. I recently tabled a petition in parliament signed by over 1,500 people from the south side, noting their concerns about the Palestinian people and asking for the UN to grant their observer status, which thankfully has happened. (Time expired)