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Tuesday, 25 March 2014
Page: 1957


Senator MILNE (TasmaniaLeader of the Australian Greens) (15:54): Mr Deputy President, I seek leave to make a short statement.

The DEPUTY PRESIDENT: Leave is granted for two minutes.

Senator MILNE: Thank you. I am not going to move to suspend standing orders. I could do that in these circumstances, and take up half an hour, but I am not going to. I just want to say that I do not accept the premise that foreign affairs matters cannot be dealt with in motions. In fact, it is often the only way you can have matters deal with in a timely manner. Only yesterday the Labor Party brought forward a motion in relation to Sri Lanka—quite appropriately, and we supported it—and the Human Rights Council is making a decision on that later this week. It is important in that context for the parliament to be able to express an opinion.

This motion relates to the Israeli occupation and illegal settlements on the West Bank. It is 2014, the United Nations Year of Solidarity with the Palestinian People. This motion was to call on the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Ms Bishop, to publicly acknowledge that all settlements are illegal and in breach of the fourth Geneva convention. She denied that when she was in Israel recently, and the claim she made was outrageous and absolutely contrary to international law.

It is important in this context to recognise that we have to continue to campaign for the Israeli government to cease the expansion of settlements in the West Bank. I want to strongly put on the record that the Greens do want this matter debated at length. Several members of parliament attended the get-together yesterday to celebrate the UN Year of Solidarity with the Palestinian People. We want to express very firmly—and we will continue to do so—that Israel's illegal settlements in the West Bank cannot be allowed to continue. We have to make a stand for fairness and justice for the Palestinian people.

I want to go back to accepting the premise that foreign affairs cannot be dealt with. We argue that they can and should be dealt with in this parliament in the manner in which we are proposing. (Time expired)