Bill's Speeches

Condolence: Ariel Sharon

Mr SHORTEN (Maribyrnong—Leader of the Opposition) (14:07):  On behalf of the federal opposition, I join with the Prime Minister in acknowledging the passing of Ariel Sharon. As a general and as a prime minister, Mr Sharon dedicated his life to fighting for his beliefs and the state of Israel. His deeds on the battlefield won him fame as one of Israel's most brilliant and courageous commanders. The same bravery and tactical acumen served him throughout his rise to the prime ministership.

Undoubtedly Ariel Sharon was a fearless leader and, at times, a controversial figure. But in his final years as prime minister he made strides in the Israel-Palestine peace process, representing a courageous shift in his politics in favour of a two-state solution. All of those involved in the peace process should follow the example of courage that has historically been required to move the process forward. We should all rededicate ourselves to supporting this goal.

Ill health robbed Mr Sharon of a chance to complete his change of position and, indeed, to remake his legacy. We will never know how history would have judged him had he seen this through. Regardless of this, Ariel Sharon will loom large in the memories of his people and his country. He will be remembered as a great friend in the history of Australia. The nation of Israel and the Israeli people will deeply feel his loss. Our sympathies are with his family and with all those who mourn his passing.