Shaoquett Moselmane MLC returns to Parliament despite the media. (AMUST Oct 23, 2020)Oct 25, 2020
Mr Shaoquett Moselmane MLC returned to the NSW Parliament on Thursday 22 October 2020 following months of controversy after the Parliamentary Privileges Committee exonerated him and cleared the way for his dignified return to the House.
During his return speech at the parliament, he said, “I wish to reiterate the fact that I was never the subject of the foreign interference investigation…..It is almost four months since the (police) raid and I have never been asked a question or accused of any wrongdoing….. No charges have been laid against me and no allegations of any criminal offence have been directed to me.”
Mr Peter Primrose, former President of Legislative Council of New South Wales, now chair of this committee, moved the motion on the report submitted by the Privileges Committee which was agreed to.
Mr Primrose appreciated the members of the committee for their non-partisan and professional work which led to an agreed outcome.
Mr Moselmane’s house was raided by Australian Federal Police on Friday 26 June under full glare of the mainstream media as part of an investigation into foreign interference into Australian political system.
He subsequently and promptly denied any wrongdoing during a media conference on Monday 29 June 2020 saying, “I am under no illusion that this is a serious investigation,” he said, while emphasising, “Let me tell you, I have done nothing wrong.”
Mr Moselmane said at that time that he was not a suspect in the AFP espionage investigation but was taking leave from the parliament while the investigation took place.
Hon Shaoquett Moselmane, during his Parliamentary career, spanning more than ten years, has been a champion of disadvantaged communities in Australia and internationally. At times, he faced difficult situation for his outspoken criticism of Israel.
In March 2013, Mr Moselmane made a parliamentary speech describing Gaza as “the world’s largest open-air prison camp” and praised resistance groups who fought against the Israeli occupation in Lebanon.
He also faced opposition within the Labor party from members of the NSW Parliament’s Friends of Israel group. Pro-Israel lobbyists continued their campaign against Mr Moslemane due to his firm commitment to the Palestinian cause.
Mr Moselmane has been proactive in raising awareness about the oppression of marginalised communities around the world including the Rohingyas.
He advocated against religious discrimination bills when former Prime Minister Tony Abbott and his Attorney-General sought to make changes to the Racial Discrimination Act, specifically to repeal section 18C.
Section 18C states that we cannot offend, assault, humiliate or intimidate any other person or a group of people because of their race, colour, national or ethnic origin.
Mr Moslemane expressed his concerns openly stating that the Racial Discrimination Act and Anti-Discrimination Act in New South Wales fails to address the sufferings that religious minorities face on a daily basis.
Since 2012, Mr Moselmane has been raising funds from multicultural communities to help the Australia-based charity, Wheelchairs For Kids Inc. He organised delivery of over 4000 wheelchairs to disabled children in Palestine, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Pakistan.
Mr Shaoquett Moselmane MLC return address to the NSW Parliament on Thursday 22 October is reproduced below:
“Given the gravity of this matter I hope members will grant me the eight or so minutes that I need. I thank honourable members for the opportunity to share a little of what I have gone through since 26 June.
First and foremost I wish to reiterate the fact that I was never the subject of the foreign interference investigation. My legal counsel and I were advised that I am not a suspect in the investigation. It is almost four months since the raid and I have never been asked a question or accused of any wrongdoing.
No charges have been laid against me and no allegations of any criminal offence have been directed to me. Furthermore, as noted by the Privileges Committee, the Australian Federal Police [AFP] search warrant does not allege that I have committed any offence under Commonwealth legislation. In fact, the warrant goes further than that. It clearly states that I was not even aware of what was alleged to have taken place. I quote from the warrant:
Zhang et al concealed from or failed to disclose to Moselmane that they were acting on behalf of or in collaboration with the Chinese State …
In a 10 September report of the The Australian, national affairs editor Simon Benson and foreign affairs and defence correspondent Ben Packham expressly wrote:
‘Mr Moselmane is not the subject of the foreign interference investigation; he has only been linked to some individuals who are subjects of the investigation.
Further, in another article of the same date, 9News senior journalist Richard Woods also wrote:
Shaoquett Moselmane … is not part of the investigation.’
There is no reason for me to be part of any investigation because I have never, ever done anything wrong, nor would I do anything that would jeopardise the welfare of our country and our people. To suggest otherwise is preposterous. Never in my life did I think that in Australia a member of Parliament could be effectively silenced for expressing a personal view about political matters, no matter how unpopular that view may be.
It was a tough and traumatic experience, especially for my wife and my 15-year-old son. They were effectively held hostage in their own home for approximately 19 hours while the AFP conducted its first day of investigation. My sick father and my sisters were also under siege next door. They were forced to block all sunlight to prevent the peering eyes and television cameras zooming into their privacy from an army of journalists camped outside our homes for three consecutive days. It was hard.
To date I remain none the wiser as to what the investigation is all about. I do not know why my public humiliation was necessary, nor do I know who decided that it was necessary for the media to accompany the police raid into my home. I do not know why the AFP needed to collect hair and dust from my family cars and take sniffer dogs into my home. I wonder what evidence that would have provided the AFP to assist its foreign interference investigation.
I have many questions to ask but no answers to find. I sought a copy of the applications and affidavits that the AFP put before the magistrate and the registrar who signed the warrants authorising entry into my home. To my disappointment I was told that the applications and affidavits were returned to the AFP, as it requested. I will never know what the AFP were looking for and why there was a raid on my home. It is because I have done nothing wrong that I am back in this honourable House.
I am also back here because of the wonderful support of many kind‑hearted friends and family. I wish to thank a few people. I start by acknowledging the Privileges Committee, its Chair, the Hon Peter Primrose, and honourable members for their work and the professional way they handled this matter. I thank the secretariat for their hard work in putting the report together in such a short time.
I look forward to the AFP bringing their investigations to a conclusion as soon as possible; justice delayed is justice denied.
I trust that the material the AFP now has will be used solely for the purpose of its investigation and not for any campaign against me through the media. That will be a test of the bona fides of the investigation. I understand that yesterday the House debated and agreed to a motion requiring the President to write to the Commissioner of the Australian Federal Police to seek confirmation of a number of matters concerning the investigation.
I welcome the decision of the House and look forward to the response that the President receives. I am hoping that it will not only give comfort to honourable members who continue to have concerns about this matter, but that it may also assist me and my family in finding closure from this terrible ordeal.
I thank all members of this House who resisted further politicisation of the investigation. To do otherwise would have added to the trauma and mental anguish suffered by my family. I thank the many members across this Parliament, and the multicultural communities that I have come to love and respect, for their overwhelming support and for the many messages of good wishes, cards, flowers and home visits. It was enormously uplifting and I can only be grateful.
I thank the many organisations in the Australian Arab community for their unwavering support, particularly Mr Hassan Moussa of the Australian Arab Business Council. I am grateful to Dr Tony Pun and the Chinese Community Council of Australia.
I thank President Iftikhar Rana and the Pakistan Australia Business Council, and many community leaders including Mr Zafar Hussain, Mr Zia Ahmad, Mr Ijaz Khan, Mr Farhat Jaffri, Dr Khurram Kayani, Dr Sayed Rizvi and Mr Azam Mohammed for their ongoing support. I also thank the faith‑based organisations and all the rank-and-file Labor Party members, councillors and others who expressed their ongoing solidarity and support.
I am humbled and grateful to them all. I wish to express my gratitude to Professor Stuart Rees, Adjunct Professor Peter Manning, Professor Ahmad Shboul, Professor Peter Slezak, Ms Cathy Peters, Dr Kassem Moustapha, Mr Hans Heilpern of the NSW Council for Civil Liberties, Mr Bashir Sawalha, Mr Ali Hammoud, Mr Anthony Bazouni, Mr Rick Mitry, Mr Cameron Murphy, Mr Ian Latham and Mr Greg Barns. I thank Mr John Menadue, editor of the significant journalPearls and Irritations, for enabling particular authors to support the principles of civil liberties.
I thank the Hon. Amanda Fazio, the Hon. Leo McLeay, Mr Anthony Mundine, Mr Gerry Georgatos, my dear friend of 40 years emeritus mayor Councillor Bill Saravinovski and many others. I am eternally grateful to the Clerk of the House, Mr David Blunt, for his fantastic, fabulous—whatever word one wants to use—and wonderful guidance. Mr Blunt is worth his weight in gold. He is an absolute professional. I thank him sincerely for facilitating and affording me the assistance that I needed to get through these traumatic times. I also thank the Deputy Clerk, Mr Steven Reynolds, and his assistant, the kind‑hearted Ms Kate Cadell.
Finally, I am grateful to you, Mr President, for calling me on over 100 mornings of the 117 days since the raid, simply to ask: Are you okay? I thank you, Mr President. I give special gratitude to my legal counsel Mr Stephen Stanton, who is a professional at what he does and an all‑round gentleman. I thank him for his legal advice and guidance.
I thank my loving and fiercely protective wife Mika Fukuta Moselmane; my son, Joseph; my father, Chaher Ali Mouslimani; all my sisters and brothers; the entire extended family; and friends. I know I did nothing wrong. I know the truth will come out and I know justice will prevail. I am honoured to be back and I am proud to be amongst my colleagues. I look forward to working with all of them in serving the people of New South Wales.