‘I’m disgusted’: Premier lashes pro-Palestine activists

Pro-Palestine activists at the Labor State conference in Victoria.

Pro-Palestine activists at the Labor State conference in Victoria. Photo: ABC screenshot

Victorian Premier Jacinta Allan says she is “disgusted” at pro-Palestine protesters who brought “violence” and “homophobia” to a Labor state conference in Melbourne.

Dozens of activists breached security and gatecrashed the event as Victorian Labor MPs, members and unionists gathered at the Moonee Valley Racecourse on Saturday.

The ALP conference carried six motions supporting the Palestinian cause which sparked a fiery debate among rank-and-file Labor members.

One called on the Albanese government to “support the inalienable right of self-determination for the Palestinian people”.

Another urged the introduction of visa bans for “violent Israeli settlers” and banning Australian citizens, companies and organisations from funding settlement activity.

Pro-Palestine protesters held up speeches by Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and Victorian Premier Jacinta Allan. Photo: AAP

Members also voted to urge the Allan government to axe a memorandum of understanding it penned with the Israel ministry of defence in 2022 and “end co-operation and investments with Israeli weapons companies”.

Two Labor members, Nick Dyrenfurth, co-convenor of Labor Friends of Israel, and Garth Head drew heckles as they spoke against the motions.

The pro-Palestine motions passed with only a smattering of opposition.

At the 2023 conference, Victorian Labor members passed a motion for the Albanese government to recognise Palestinian statehood within this term of parliament.

Premier: ‘I’m disgusted’

The protesters’ security breach delayed speeches by Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and Allan.

A security guard fell on a moving escalator as he tried to stop them.

The protesters chanted “Labor Party you can’t hide, you’re supporting genocide” after making their way upstairs.

They then started banging on the locked conference room doors and chanting during the in-memoriam section that referenced the deaths of former Labor leader Simon Crean, Dunkley MP Peta Murphy and Senator Linda White.

“I just want to let everyone know that the protesters which were outside have been moved on,” a Labor official told the party faithful.

A Victoria Police spokeswoman told AAP the protesters left without incident and no arrests were made.

However, it is alleged a protester abused a state Labor minister with a homophobic slur.

Footage showed Fraser MP Daniel Mulino being shoved as he tried to enter the conference, with police later escorting other members.

After her speech, the premier took to social media to condemn the intruders for allegedly bringing “violence, homophobia and anti-Semitism” to the conference.

“I’m disgusted. No one should be cowered by these bullies,” she wrote on social media platform X.

“As premier, my priority is a cohesive society where all Victorians feel safe and respected.”

Independent senator Lidia Thorpe was among those to give speeches outside as the group chanted “from the river to the sea, Palestine will be free” and suggested several Labor leaders had “blood on their hands”.

Domestic tensions remain high over Israel’s invasion and bombing of Gaza following the October 7 terror attack by Hamas.

It was the first state party conference since Allan succeeded Daniel Andrews as premier in September.

A proposal to strip rank-and-file members of their right to vote for a new state leader did not proceed.

In September, senior right faction MP Ben Carroll threatened to challenge Allan for the leadership after Andrews’ resignation.

The move — which would have forced a vote among party members, who currently get an equal say in deciding the leader when more than one MP nominates — was avoided when a deal was struck for Carroll to become deputy premier.

However, dozens of party members turned their backs and shouted “shame” over conditions for school cleaners as Carroll, the education minister, addressed the crowd.

United Workers Union members then moved a motion condemning the government for maintaining privatised cleaning contracts in schools.

-with AAP

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