Current track




‘War criminal’: Treasurer’s awkward question on Netanyahu

Written by on May 20, 2024

Treasurer Jim Chalmers was supposed to face questions about the federal budget during a television appearance, but has instead been asked whether he believes Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Natanyahu is a war criminal.

The awkward question was thrown at Mr Chalmers during his appearance on the ABC’s Q&A program on Monday night after it was revealed the chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court was seeking arrest warrants for Mr Natanyahu and Hamas leaders over alleged war crimes.

ICC prosecutor Karim AA Khan KC claimed he had reasonable grounds to believe Mr Netanyahu and Israeli Defence Minister Yoav Gallant had responsibility for war crimes and crimes against humanity during the ongoing war in Gaza.

Arrest warrants have also been sought for Hamas leaders Yahya Sinwar, Ismail Haniyeh and Mohammed Diab Ibrahim Al-Masri for alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity.

“Obviously that will be a matter for the international court,” Mr Chalmers said.

“We’re not party to that process.

“I don’t intend to get into a process, which involves the International Criminal Court. We’re not a party to that.”

Speaking more broadly about the war in Gaza, Mr Chalmers said he wanted to see an end to the killing of innocent civilians.

“There has been the killing of too many innocent people in Gaza,” he said.

“We want to see a humanitarian ceasefire. We want to see the hostages released.

“We want to see the aid go in and we want to see an enduring peaceful, two-state solution in that part of the world.”

On the federal budget, Mr Chalmers was grilled by multiple people about the housing crisis.

“There are too many people sleeping in cars, there are too many people sleeping in tents … and we don’t have enough homes … we don’t have enough builders and construction workers,” he said.

“We’ve got a lot of catching up to do after a decade of neglect.”

The Treasurer agreed owning a home had become out of reach for many people.

“There is no substitute for building more homes,” he said.

“We want to build 1.2 million new homes in the five years from July this year.”

Other solutions were suggested by some members of the public, but Mr Chalmers said the only thing that would simultaneously solve the issues in the rental market and for people to buy their first home was to build more homes.

“One of the maddest things you could do is let people access their super for housing because that would mean two or three more people at every auction,” he said.

“I don’t accept, not for one second, that there is a lack of commitment or enthusiasm for improving the housing market for everyone, but especially for young people.

“Vacancy rates are far too low, and rents are far too high, and prices are out of reach for too many people, and we have an issue with homelessness.

“The only thing that will solve all of those things is to build much more housing and that is what the budget was about.”