Television Interview with Natalie Barr – Sunrise – Friday 5 April 2024


SUBJECTS: Hamas-Israel conflict; AFL Gather Round

NATALIE BARR: Prime Minister Anthony Albanese says those responsible for killing Australian aid worker Zomi Frankcom in Gaza must be held to account. The Melbourne woman was one of seven aid workers who had just finished delivering food with the charity World Central Kitchen when Israeli forces launched a drone strike on their convoy. The PM says Israel has accepted responsibility and has committed to a full investigation. But there are now calls for her death to be investigated as a war crime.

For more, we’re joined by Education Minister Jason Clare and Deputy Opposition Leader Sussan Ley.

Good morning to both of you. Zomi’s boss, Jose Andres, says the strike which killed his staff was not a mistake. He’s accusing Israeli forces of systematically targeting those three cars in that convoy. He’s calling on the home countries of his convoy colleagues to carry out their own investigation. Jason, should we do that?

JASON CLARE, MINISTER FOR EDUCATION: Zomi Frankcom was an aid worker. She was, as you just said, delivering food to starving people in Gaza. And we need to know how this happened.

It’s not good enough just to say ‘shit happens, that this is war and that people are going to die in a war zone’. She was an aid worker trying to help desperate and starving people. And this is not a one-off, Nat. About 190-odd aid workers have been killed so far. 15,000 kids have been killed so far. It’s obvious that Israel is not doing enough to protect the lives of innocent people. So, we do need a full investigation here.

But anyone with a heart would be saying that we need the killing to stop now. We need the suffering to stop now. We need the starvation to stop now. We need the hostages returned, and we need to get food and medicine into starving people.

I find it extraordinary, Nat, that America has to drop food from the air or build a port on the side of Gaza when there’s plenty of food in Israel, there’s plenty of medicine in Israel, there’s plenty of trucks in Israel. All they need to do is open the gates and let that food in to help those starving people.

BARR: Jason, America has just signed a new deal to supply arms to Israel. What does our government think of that?

CLARE: I want the war to stop. I want the suffering to stop. I want Israel to hear what countries around the world are saying. President Biden called again today for a ceasefire. I think anybody that’s watching what is happening overseas and seeing the slaughter that is happening in Gaza, you know, frankly, there are parents using pens to write the names of their kids on the soles of their feet right now in Gaza in case their kids are killed and blown up tomorrow so they can identify their body and their body parts. That’s what’s happening. It’s hard for us in Australia to even contemplate that as we go to sleep and put our kids to sleep. That’s what’s happening in Gaza right now. We need the killing to stop. We need the hostages returned, but we also need to get food and medicine in there. And as I said, you know, people like Zomi were desperately trying to get food from the port and deliver it to starving people in Gaza. There’s plenty of food in Israel right now. They just can’t get it across the border.

BARR: Sussan, they were on that road, these three cars, because they had apparently done a deal with the Israeli defence force that that was the road they were allowed to get the food in on. Should this be investigated as a war crime?

SUSSAN LEY: Nat, my heart goes out to Zomi Frankcom, her family and friends, our thoughts and prayers are with them. This is an incredibly distressing situation. She was clearly an extraordinary young woman and she was working in a humanitarian capacity in a war zone to relieve tragedy and suffering, as were her colleagues, as is the World Central Kitchen. So, we want answers and the Israeli Government has promised that independent inquiry and those answers. So, it’s important that we do, in fact, find out what has happened and we bring some sense of understanding to all those who are just reeling from distress at this awful, awful situation.

BARR: Okay. Look, let’s look at what we are doing in Adelaide this weekend, which is something fun and amazing and uplifting. Sussan, your team, the Sydney Swans, are taking part in this wonderful event in Adelaide. They take on the West Coast Eagles tomorrow. What do you think is going to happen? What would you like the score to be?

LEY: Well, as I watch the Gather Round gather momentum, Nat, I think this is the only event that Melbourne is quite happy to lose to Adelaide. It’s great to see the Swannies, they’re playing just up the road at Mount Barker. They’ve started the season well and I – look, I’m still recovering from the grand final two years ago with Geelong, but I just think this is great for the game. It’s great for young people, great for girls and women who play AFL and I’m really pleased it’s not happening in Sydney. On that note, I just want to say as you’ve – as your news readers have said throughout the morning, please be really careful. It is bucketing down here and it is not safe to be out and about if you don’t know exactly where you’re going and what the road conditions are.

BARR: Yeah, well, that is a good warning. Jason, I know you’re more of a League fan. I bet you’re sorry that you flew into Adelaide yesterday and then hightailed it out of here.

CLARE: There was a lot of people in Adelaide yesterday. The airport was chockablock. A lot of people from Victoria, a few people from Sydney. I was looking to see if the Parramatta Eels were playing. Apparently, that’s a different code. But seriously, the Giants are playing there on Sunday afternoon. They’re undefeated, Western Sydney Giants have got a good crack this year, but can I say it’s fantastic for Adelaide. But can I also underline the point Sussan made. It’s bucketing down in Sydney and encourage everyone to please stay safe out there.

BARR: Yeah, you’re right. The warnings are out there. Please heed them, everyone. Thank you both, we’ll see you next week. Here’s Shirvo.

CLARE: Cheers.