The situation in Gaza is catastrophic. It is horrific to see innocent children and people being killed when they should be protected. I once again reiterate the concerns and despair of so many people in my community who want to see an urgent end to innocent Palestinian civilians being killed. There must be a ceasefire now.

What is happening in Rafah—the killing of innocent civilians who have nowhere safe to go—must end. The Netanyahu government must listen to the Australian government and the many other members of the international community who have repeatedly said that this cannot continue. They must listen to the calls for a ceasefire that we have made repeatedly. I note it’s now six months since we joined 152 other countries in the UN in voting for a ceasefire. International law must be respected. The ICC must be respected. Humanitarian aid must be allowed to flow at scale, as ordered by the International Court of Justice. Hamas must release hostages.

The US President has put forward a ceasefire proposal, and it should be taken up. Ultimately, we need a lasting peace. We need a two-state solution. As I have said before in this place and as I say once again, I add my voice to those of all who want to see our common humanity triumph, see lasting peace and see an immediate ceasefire.

As I make these comments tonight, I am also half-holding my breath, anticipating what might flow my way as a result of making them. While we should be able to talk about Gaza in this place and while we should be talking about it in our communities, the reality is that, at the moment, across our parliament and across our communities, we do not seem to be able to have important conversations in a respectful way, and I do worry about the implications of this for our democracy and for our communities.

Like a number of my Labor colleagues, I had to close my electorate office last Friday, based on security advice, and it’s not the first time I have had to close my office in recent times. People absolutely have a right to protest in this country, but when protests are threatening and they intimidate our staff, that is concerning, and I worry about the implications for those people who most need support. Our electorate offices are often a place of last resort for vulnerable people in our community who are seeking help. People come to my office because they’re struggling to access basic services or payments. Often, for these people, a local MP’s office is the one place they know will be open to them, so I don’t like having to close my doors to them or, indeed, to the many other people who want to have conversations with me. But I do at the moment have to worry for the safety and security of my staff. My staff, at the moment, are too often the brunt of heightened behaviour and language, and I know I am not unique in this amongst MPs at the moment.

I worry for the safety of my children when I receive various messages telling me that, as a mother, I have blood on my hands and that God will judge me. And, ultimately, I do worry about our democracy, because, if we can’t make ourselves heard without threats and intimidation and if we can’t have difficult conversations in a respectful way, then the potential for us to hear each other and to be able to make change together is greatly reduced.

This does spill across a range of issues at the moment. It does feel like there are too many times when members of the community approach members of parliament in a constantly heightened way. We can and should do better than to think that directing threatening and insulting messages at individual MPs is the way to create change. We can and should do better than to think that actions designed to intimidate and frighten is the way to create change.

I recently had a conversation with a member of my community who had migrated to our country. He’s someone who sees me quite regularly while I’m out and about in the community with my children. He actually said to me how refreshing it was to be able to see that—to see an MP just in the community—because in his home country MPs are inaccessible. They’re shut away from the community. I don’t want our democracy to have to operate in that way. I don’t want to have to do my role in a way where I have to be quarantined from community because of security concerns. I do continue to recognise it’s a privilege to be elected to this place. I don’t want women who are considering whether they want to be elected to this place to have to add security concerns onto an already long list of things that I know they are weighing up. It is on all of us to try and have better conversations, to lead better discussions, to respect each other and to work for change in a way that respects differences, respects our social cohesion and our democratic foundations.

Click here to watch this speech.

Scroll to Top