Security matters are not a ‘political game’, Albanese tells critics

NSW Police to monitor community following Sydney rally

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese refuses to say whether the cabinet’s national security committee will meet to respond to the crisis in Israel as political divisions overshadowed Australia’s response to the attack.

Former ambassador to Israel Dave Sharma and others, including Opposition Leader Peter Dutton, have called for the committee to consider the domestic implications of the events in Gaza.

Albanese had dismissed those calls but on Wednesday refused to provide details, saying security matters should not be made into a “political game”.

“What I don’t do is foreshadow either past, present or future talk about national security committee,” the PM said.

The cabinet subcommittee is convened in response to security developments.

The government will start repatriating citizens from Israel from Friday, initially via flights from Tel Aviv to London.

It had faced earlier criticism for not providing a safe return route for Australians in Israel.

Police have warned the conflict poses long-term domestic security risks, as security was boosted at Jewish schools and hospitals in Sydney after a public event to commemorate the attacks was marred by anti-Semitic protestors.

Australian grandmother killed in Israel

Division in NSW Parliament

Political divides have emerged in the NSW Parliament after four members of the Greens blocked a motion condemning attacks by Hamas that left 1200 people dead, most of them civilians.

One Greens MP, Jenny Leong, lashed out at Deputy Prime Minister Richard Marles for issuing a statement that described the bloodshed as unprovoked.

“Unprovoked?! This is a disgraceful statement from Defence Minister Richard Marles. It is also appalling that tonight the Opera House will be lit up in support of Israel – what about all of the Palestinian lives lost since occupation?”

Foreign policy and opposition to Israel has become a central issue for the Greens NSW division, even on Sydney councils.

In 2010, Greens (and some Labor members) on Marrickville Council voted for a motion implementing a policy to cut all commercial ties with Israel.

A projected $4 million bill to replace council computers and equipment drove a backlash against the party at the next election.

Walt Secord, from the Australia/Israel and Jewish Affairs Council, suggested the enormity of the weekend attack by 1500 Hamas militants has yet to be fully comprehended.

“At least 900 people have been slaughtered in southern Israel – including 260 young people at a music festival,” he said.

“The extent of the ISIS-style horror is still being revealed.”

Home Affairs Minister Clare O’Neil will bring together state and federal agencies to lead a government response to the challenge to social cohesion posed by the Middle East crisis, which this week prompted ugly demonstrations in Sydney.

“It is completely un‑Australian to be doing this,” O’Neil said. “I want people to remember that this is not about politics and it’s not about religion, it’s about common humanity and the duty that we owe to Australians, that we owe to one another to be decent.”

O’Neil and Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus will consult with security experts and the Jewish community on Thursday.

Foreign Minister Penny Wong said there was no place for anti-Semitism in Australia in a speech to the Australia-Israel Chamber of Commerce.

“We remain as steadfast and unwavering as ever in our support for Israel.”

Former prime minister John Howard said Albanese had been “equivocal” in his language in response to the crisis.

Stay informed, daily
A FREE subscription to The New Daily arrives every morning and evening.
The New Daily is a trusted source of national news and information and is provided free for all Australians. Read our editorial charter
Copyright © 2024 The New Daily.
All rights reserved.