Wed, 18 Oct 2023 - 11:49



Shadow Minister for Science and the Arts

Shadow Minister for Government Services and the Digital Economy

Manager of Opposition Business in the House




19 OCT 2023


TOM CONNELL: All right, well, we are waiting by we're looking at Parliament. It's a busy day and I say that because we've got the Shadow Government Services Minister who's the manager of opposition business in the studio. Paul Fletcher. He's just warned me if the division has to go, I won't be offended. I understand. Let's start on Israel. Pretty troubling reports of this hospital that had a rocket on it. Hundreds killed. So Hamas blaming Israel. Israel saying we have evidence this was not us. Is this a fog of war or do you trust Israel on this?

PAUL FLETCHER:  Well, look, I'm not going to be commenting on the factual specifics. I haven't been briefed on it. I've seen the stories, obviously. But clearly we've got contested, uh, descriptions of what has happened. The fact is Israel has a legitimate right to defend itself. There was a vicious and unprovoked attack, which killed, we now know, over a thousand Israelis. The majority were many, many of them unarmed civilians. This was an appalling attack, a violation of all humanitarian principles, and Israel needs to defend itself. Now, it's doing everything it can to warn civilians. And that's a clear distinction between Israel's approach and the approach of Hamas, the sort of moral equivalence that some on the left are asserting is entirely without basis. And I support Israel. The Coalition supports Israel. We support Israel's right to defend itself.

TOM CONNELL: Is it always the caveat, though, of defending itself and avoiding that civilian situation? I mean, with water and electricity being cut off, obviously I'm not privy to how this operation works and how you contend with Hamas. And they've got a reputation for so-called using civilians as a human shield. But this clearly cuts off, you know, a couple of million people from getting that. What they need is that is that too far cutting off water and electricity?

PAUL FLETCHER: Israel has a legitimate right to defend itself if and we've seen atrocious, unprovoked attacks on unarmed civilians is rail is demonstrably and clearly making efforts to avoid civilians being unnecessarily caught up in this. For example, with the warnings that it is issuing for people to move to the south and

TOM CONNELL: Not a lot of places are having to go, sadly. Are there? Egypt borders, Obviously,

PAUL FLETCHER: This is a situation which has been created by Hamas. The murderous terrorist organisation. But at the moment, regrettably, deeply, regrettably, it is in practical terms, the government in Gaza, it is it is the organisation which has responded ability for the welfare of the people that it has asserted control over.

TOM CONNELL: Will peace never happened with Hamas in control . Is that a reality? 

PAUL FLETCHER: It is very clear Hamas has no interest in peace. I mean, look at this message, this mantra, this chant from the river to the sea. What does that mean? It means pushing every Jew out of Israel. That is their objective. That is their objective. So the Coalition strongly supports a negotiated lasting peace, a two state solution. Our position on that is very clear.

TOM CONNELL: Palestinian Authority [INAUDIBLE]

PAUL FLETCHER:  But these are murderous terrorist thugs and absolutely, we support Israel's right to self-defence.

TOM CONNELL: I mean, the barbarity was was sort of an ISIS, I guess, is the most recent comparison.

PAUL FLETCHER:  I think it's an absolutely accurate comparison. Absolutely accurate.

TOM CONNELL: I wanna talk to you about the voice result. Are you worried you're out of touch with your electorate? It was the one Liberal electorate to support it.

PAUL FLETCHER: Well, look, on the most recent numbers, I think the yes vote in Bradfield 51.37%. That was very close to line,

TOM CONNELL: clearly keeping an eye on it.

PAUL FLETCHER:  Of course I am. Any responsible MP would be. Can I make the point that the vote the yes vote for same sex marriage in Bradfield was 60.6%. In 1999, the Yes vote for the referendum for the Republic, I should say, was 55.6%. And so compared to those results, it is clear that the Yes campaign did not get the traction in Bradfield that certainly he was seen with those other changes in what might be called what might be called social policy issues.

TOM CONNELL: Nonetheless, it's a it's a big number compared to the state and the country. Does it does it give you a reminder? I mean, you won 54-46 last time, but lost 15% in your primary. You went up against the teal that this is at least on the demographic and everything, potentially teal territory. Are you on on guard? If you like.

PAUL FLETCHER: Well, the results of the election were clear. It's a liberal seat. It's not a teal seat —

TOM CONNELL: It's friendly if a teals then. They've got their seats right now. If they're looking at the next one, they might be able to win. This is clearly high up the list.

PAUL FLETCHER: Well, you'll have to ask the teal party what their strategy is. But what I can tell you my strategy is, is to be focused on the issues of concern to Australians. Cost of living, mortgages. I have a lot of constituents talking to me about mortgages, 11 interest rate rises under this Prime Minister. He promised to make mortgages cheaper. They've gone in the other direction. He promised to make to help people with the cost of living burden. He promised a $275 reduction —

TOM CONNELL: He promised mortgages would be cheaper?

PAUL FLETCHER: Well, he said when he was in Western Australia, that there would be cheaper mortgages. He absolutely did promise that. And indeed he promised a $275 reduction in energy prices —

TOM CONNELL: He did do that. I'm sure you'll point out to me. we might talk about it next time because we're out of time but the promise on cheaper mortgages but I'm out of time to look at that further. 
Paul Fletcher let you get back to the chamber. Thank you.