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Tuesday, 13 September 2011
Page: 5912

Senator ABETZ (TasmaniaLeader of the Opposition in the Senate) (16:00): Pursuant to contingent notice of motion, I move:

That so much of the standing orders be suspended as would prevent me moving a motion to provide for the consideration of a matter—namely, a motion to give precedence to a motion condemning the Australian Greens and their leader for failing to condemn the vile boycott, divestment and sanctions, or BDS, campaign against Israel.

Australia rightly celebrates a robust and diverse democracy. That is healthy. What is not healthy and is indeed destructive for our democracy is when leaders failed to condemn that which is vile and detestable, when they fail to call that which is vile and detestable what it is—namely, vile and detestable. There is no description other than 'vile and detestable' for the BDS campaign against Israel, a campaign shamefully aided and abetted by the Australian Greens. That is why this Senate needs to bring the Australian Greens to account.

It is heart-warming to note that at least one Green in New South Wales has reservations about this vile and detestable campaign—and, if you were to believe Senator Bob Brown's public utterances, you would believe that he does too. Indeed, Senator Brown is on record as saying he and his party do not support BDS. When asked by Ali Moore on Lateline:

Do you support the policy that New South Wales Greens have for a boycott—

referring to the BDS—Senator Brown replied:

No, I don't, and I've said this before publicly, Ali, that it was rejected by the Australian Greens Council last year.

A great answer but for one fact: alas, it was false on both counts. Today's motion was as clear cut as any. It was a clear-cut invitation for Senator Brown and the Greens to be as good as his word in that interview—that you condemn the BDS. You see, Senator Brown has in his party senators willing to address rallies where the flag of Israel is disfigured; the Star of David is taken out and replaced by a swastika. He has senators that support the boycotting of Jewish businesses in Australia. When someone like Paul Kelly asked one of these senators, 'You are prepared to target and boycott individual businesses?' the senator responded:

… I see the value of that tactic as a way to promoting Palestinian human rights.

Further, the senator was asked:

Don't you think that is very divisive, to actually do something like that given the history, don't you think that's an exceptionally divisive step?

The senator—no prizes for guessing Senator Rhiannon—said:

Not at all.

That was the shameful response. There you have it.

What is worse, the Greens leader himself sneaks onto the Notice Paper question No. 1095—yet this time without the fanfare of a media release. And what is the question asked of the Minister for Trade? Amongst other things, it is asking for a list of products imported into Australia from Israeli settlements in the occupied territories, so-called, and the list goes on. It is clear that Senator Bob Brown simply says one thing under the pressure of an interview and votes in the exact opposite manner on each and every occasion he is given the opportunity to put his vote where his mouth is. He puts his vote where his questions on the Notice Paper are and where his heart actually lies in this matter. Today, in one of the most benign BDS motions, there is the opportunity for the Greens to actually support one of their own in condemning this vile, destructive, divisive campaign. But, no, the Greens could not bring themselves to do so.

This is a matter of urgency. This is a matter on which the Senate should move a motion to condemn the Australian Greens and their leader. Sure, Australia has a robust, vibrant democracy, but it should not tolerate the boycotting of businesses because their ownership is Jewish. I think we know enough about world history to never go down that track as a country. I commend the motion to the Senate.