16 December 2023

The Albanese Labor Government continues leave Australia lagging behind our allies after failing to apply important sanctions against the terrorist organisation Hamas.

Since the horrific atrocities of 7 October by Hamas against Israel, many countries have swiftly and aptly applied successive rounds of sanctions and frozen assets of individuals or companies affiliated with Hamas and have continued to add further sanctions.

Labor’s unwillingness to use the powers it has to target those responsible for and supporting terrorism falls far short of our allies in applying the practical mechanisms that will have real impact in supporting Israel’s campaign to disable Hamas and prevent it from committing such atrocities again.

Minister Wong talked tough on the use of sanctions before the election, which makes it even more remarkable to have not applied them sooner to the likes of the leadership and supporters of Hamas.

It took six weeks after the 7 October attacks before this Labor Government finally imposed counter-terrorism financing sanctions on eight persons and one entity in response to the Hamas terrorist attacks.

While the Coalition welcomed these few, belated sanctions, Australia’s response falls well short of that of the UK and the US, both of which have now applied multiple rounds of sanctions.

The latest sanctions imposed by the UK and the US target officials who advance Hamas’s agenda and interests abroad and help manage its finances.

Specifically, we call on the Albanese Government to urgently sanction Yahya Sinwar, the senior leader of Hamas and the group’s political leader in Gaza, and Mahmoud Khaled Zahhar, a senior member and co-founder of Hamas.

Zahhar is known to have worked closely with Specially Designated Global Terrorist and Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh. Sinwar is reported to have been involved in the brutal attacks on Israel on 7 October.

Sinwar has been sanctioned by the US, UK and France. The US also imposed sanctions on Zahhar on 14 November 2023 and the UK followed suit only days ago.

Australia may be a long way from this conflict, but we should be ensuring that our actions multiply the impact of like-minded nations, rather than risk being a safe haven for the assets or activities of those who promulgate terror.

Australia should be working in lockstep with allies to dismantle Hamas’s financial infrastructure, including from external sources and block new funding channels they seek to finance their heinous acts.

The Albanese Labor Government should be utilising Australia’s sanctions regime which was strengthened by the former Coalition Government to better align with allies in imposing sanctions, if not leading the way.

The weakness of the Albanese Labor Government against terrorism is of deep concern and must be rectified.