This week we finally saw the Australian Government, together with Canada and New Zealand, take a stronger stand on the catastrophic loss of life we have seen in Gaza.
These words need to be backed up with action.
I fully support the wholehearted condemnation of Hamas’ atrocities and the urgent need to see all remaining hostages released.
But equally there must be a sustainable ceasefire that brings an end to the thousands of civilian deaths, the majority of which have been women and children.
A ceasefire must be the first step on a path to establishing a lasting peace in the region. In the past Australia has shown itself, together with its allies, to be a strong and respected voice on the international stage calling for peace.
It is deeply concerning to read reports this morning that the majority of the 860 Palestinians who have been granted temporary visitor visas for Australia are still waiting for their names to be added to a list that enables them to to leave Gaza through the Rafah Crossing.
Equally, Australian passport holders remain stranded in Gaza not having made the list.
I have been approached by Canberran families who have obtained visas for their family members to enter Australia, but are unable to get help to secure their passage across the border so they can travel here.
Australians and those granted Australian visas seem to be disproportionately poorly represented on the daily Rafah Crossing list.
I recognise the efforts of DFAT and the Australian Government but also the deep distress of those here in Australia anxiously waiting for their friends and relatives to secure passage to safety.
There is nowhere safe in Gaza now. Every additional day waiting to cross the border is another day they are at risk of death.
I urge our government to redouble its efforts to see more Australian passport and visa holders able to cross the border and come to find safety in Australia.