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Wednesday, 28 November 2012
Page: 13714

Middle East


Mr ABBOTT (WarringahLeader of the Opposition) (14:01): My question is to the Prime Minister. Why did the Prime Minister lack the courage of her convictions on support for Israel at the United Nations? What will she now do to dispel the impression that this is a government in chaos with the Prime Minister no longer in charge?

Ms Macklin interjecting

The SPEAKER: The minister for families and communities! The Prime Minister has the call.



Ms GILLARD (LalorPrime Minister) (14:02): I thank the Leader of the Opposition for the first question he has asked me this week. I have been asked 18 questions by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition this week, and this is the first question on foreign affairs. But where is the Deputy Leader of the Opposition? She is nowhere to be seen, like she has been seen nowhere today. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition is now an embarrassment to the Leader of the Opposition and the opposition generally. There she is, unable to ask a question about foreign affairs.

Opposition members interjecting

The SPEAKER: Order! The Prime Minister will return to the question.

Ms GILLARD: I am certainly dealing with foreign affairs questions. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition is unable to ask a question about foreign affairs, was pulled off attending the National Press Club and did not go to the Leader of the Opposition's book launch because of how embarrassed the opposition is—

Mr Pyne interjecting

Ms GILLARD: Yes, I know you are embarrassed.

The SPEAKER: The Manager of Opposition Business, who is now on very thin ice, has the call.

Mr Pyne: Speaker, I rise on a point of order. You directed the Prime Minister to answer the question; she openly defied you and continued with a shrill attack on the opposition. We have asked a straightforward, sensible question, and you should be respected.

The SPEAKER: The Manager of Opposition Business will resume his seat. I was finding it very difficult to hear the Prime Minister. I understand the Prime Minister had not returned to the question.

Mr Randall interjecting

The SPEAKER: The member for Canning may only be here for two minutes if he is not very careful. I could not hear to interrupt the Prime Minister and ask her to return to the question. The Prime Minister has the call and will answer the question before the chair.

Ms GILLARD: In answer to the Leader of the Opposition's first question for the week, let me assure the Leader of the Opposition that I, as Prime Minister, and this Labor government—like Labor prime ministers in the past and Labor governments in the past—are firm supporters of a two-state solution to the peace problems in the Middle East. We would all want to wake up in a world where Israel could live behind secure borders, its people in peace and no longer fearing rocket attacks from anyone outside their territory. We would all want to wake up in a world where the people of Palestine had their own nation and they too lived in peace behind secure borders. That is the world in which we would want to live. That is the world which we have always wanted to see come about. Labor has been and always will be: a supporter of a two-state solution in the Middle East; a strong and firm friend of Israel; and working with the Palestinian people to realise their legitimate aspirations for a homeland and for a state. That is what we will continue to do.

The Leader of the Opposition is asking this question: (1) because he needed to ask a question sometime this week; and (2) because the deputy leader is now such an embarrassment that she cannot pursue her portfolio areas. But the Leader of the Opposition is asking this question because he wants to play a little bit of political carry-on. I remind the Leader of the Opposition of this: it has been bipartisan policy across the major parties in this parliament to support Israel, to support peace in the Middle East and to support two states in the Middle East. This side of the parliament will always hold faith with that, and we will always take that issue with the utmost seriousness. It will not be this kind of political plaything to try to resolve your embarrassment today.