Like many people in my electorate of Indi, I am distressed and appalled by the ongoing conflict and dire humanitarian situation in Gaza.

The recent attacks on Rafah have left many Australians, myself included, with feelings of despair.

I am appalled by the ongoing deaths, including of innocent women and children, the suffering of innocent people, the destruction of critical infrastructure including hospitals, the obstruction of food and medical supplies.

On Monday, I attended a presentation by Australian doctors who recently returned from working with Medecins sans Frontieres in Gaza. The firsthand accounts, photos and video footage were harrowing. These horrific images of death, disfigurement, malnutrition will never leave me.

Many people in Indi have written to me about the situation in Palestine – in fact more people have written to me on this issue than on anything else in this term of Parliament.

I take the advocacy from my constituents seriously as their representative. These emails and powerful advocacy are part of the reason why last year I wrote to the Prime Minister and the Foreign Minister calling on the Government to call for an immediate ceasefire, and why I have voted multiple times in the Parliament on motions in favour of ceasefire.

Before I continue, I must make it clear. I condemn the attacks on Israel on October 7 by Hamas and call for the return of all hostages. In not dismissing the decades of history in this region, the generations of hurt, I acknowledge this current conflict was triggered by those awful events. But the months of violence that have followed since can no longer be tolerated by the international community.

I welcome the Foreign Minister’s statement this week calling for the violence to end and the framework plan for an end to the conflict offered by President Biden to be accepted by both sides.

All sides of Australian politics need to add their voices to support this deal.

Like many of my constituents, I want the Government to take a stronger stand against the actions of the Netanyahu Government. There is a time to be measured, a time to be restrained. That time has passed. There must be consequences for this ongoing violence which has claimed the lives of more than 38,000 people.

That is not the same as “siding with Hamas”. It is not that simple. The expectations of a democratically elected state are vastly different to those of a terrorist organisation. There is a strong and legitimate peace deal on the table.

In recent days I spoke at length with a constituent who has been campaigning for peace. She felt helpless, powerless. She asked me what more could she do? She asked me to do more.

I have made my position public in local media, and written multiple letters with my crossbench colleagues calling on the Government to reinstate funding for UNRWA, and to support the work of the International Criminal Court.

While I have taken actions available to me as an elected member of this place, I understand there are members of the community in Indi who would prefer I had taken a different approach. That I was more strident, more loud, more public in my advocacy.

Elected officials have a responsibility in how they use their platform. It’s a responsibility I take seriously. We must ensure our words are not used to incite further conflict and threaten the precious social cohesion of our multicultural nation. I would never wish my words to be used as weapons.

It has been of great concern to me that it appears some political actors from extreme perspectives have used this conflict to further their own aims.

The rise in antisemitism in Australia is deeply disturbing, as is the increasing intimidation directed at people of the Jewish faith. While I believe in the right to peaceful protest, when the line is crossed into violence it must be called out.

These political attacks are having a very real impact in our communities, including on the physical and mental safety of people from across our diverse multicultural community and on MPs and their staff. It is in this context that I have not felt it was possible as a member of this place to engage in public facing debate that is safe, constructive and contributes to an end to this horror.

It is past time to replace political attacks with applying every ounce of our influence to finally achieve an end to the bloodshed in Gaza through an enduring peace deal. One that ultimately achieves two states, Palestine and Israel, living safely and securely. This war must end.

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