Wed, 15 Nov 2023 - 16:15



Shadow Minister for Science and the Arts

Shadow Minister for Government Services and the Digital Economy

Manager of Opposition Business in the House




15 NOVEMBER 2023


KIERAN GILBERT: Let's bring in now Paul Fletcher. He's the manager of Opposition Business, also the Shadow Minister for Government services Paul, thanks for your time. I want to start with that refusal of service to a Jewish school in Sydney. It's in your electorate. Have you been in touch with the school and how are they reacting to it?

PAUL FLETCHER: Yes, Masada College in St Ives in my electorate. I spoke to the principal today. They're naturally very concerned. So what happened here was that they went to a business that supplies games for children and essentially said, we're interested in buying some what would it cost? And they got the appalling response, which has, you know, been covered today, where effectively they were refused service and a very, you know, very offensive response.

KIERAN GILBERT: Some games for kids?

PAUL FLETCHER: Yes. Games for children. The principal I spoke to the principal today, as you know, she said that the school's troubled, the parents are very concerned. And I understand some of the social media posts that have been made include have taken some shots from the school's own website, including Faces of Children. So there are parents who are very, very concerned about this. And this is an example of the broader issue that Australia's Jewish community is rightly very concerned about their safety at the moment. And the Coalition certainly believes that political leaders, federal and state, need to be doing everything possible to reassure Jewish Australians about their safety.

KIERAN GILBERT: Mr. Dutton questioned the Prime Minister's commitment on this front. He clearly. Anthony Albanese was outraged at that suggestion. Is it fair of the Opposition Leader to be questioning Mr Albanese's support of the Jewish community, given he has condemned anti-Semitism and also very strongly condemned the attacks in Israel that started all of this on the first place, that terrorist attack back on October 7th.

PAUL FLETCHER: Well, what Peter Dutton did today in the motion that we moved in, the House was identified a range of risks to public safety. Certainly one of those risks is the kinds of things we've seen in Caulfield, in Melbourne, with Hamas sympathisers gathering outside a synagogue while a service was underway. The disgraceful scenes on Monday the 9th of October at Sydney Opera House with Israeli flags being burnt and chants of gas, the Jews and worse.But at the same time, we've also got a government that has just released 83 people into the community, including murderers, people who've been convicted of child rape. They've been released from immigration detention and the government didn't seem to have a plan to deal with it.

KIERAN GILBERT: Yeah, well, that's a separate matter. And to be fair, it appears a debacle, really, the fact that they were able to be released and the government doesn't want them to be. So you'd think that some mechanism would have been possible. And I believe the government is going to legislate on that front. Do you welcome that?

PAUL FLETCHER: Senator Wong has said that today in the Senate curiously, when the Prime Minister spoke in the motion, responding to the motion that the Leader of the Opposition moved, he did not take the opportunity to reassure the Australian people that the Government had this in hand and that legislation was being developed. That was very curious But the broader point we're making is that you've seen on several fronts a lack of focus and a lack of action by the Albanese Labor Government to keep Australians safe. What the Leader of the Opposition, together with Dan Tehan, the Shadow Minister for Immigration, have proposed today is that there ought to be a meeting of national cabinet called with the Prime Minister and Premiers to look at these issues of public safety and the risk to Jewish communities because of course you've got both state police as well as the federal agencies that have an involvement. And of course what we've also been calling for is legislation to be developed urgently. And we've said we're prepared to sit as needed any time to get this legislation passed. But what the government needs to do is bring the legislation forward and what they should have not have been in a position of was being caught flat footed by a High Court decision and not had, you know a contingency plan

KIERAN GILBERT: on the suggestion, though, that question the Prime Minister's support of the Jewish community and the government support is that appropriate, ?

PAUL FLETCHER: what was put in that motion was entirely appropriate. And the point we're making is there is amongst the Jewish community in Australia significant concern about personal safety. I've heard it from my own Jewish constituents. You know, I was at Masada College just about a week and a half ago on a Sunday evening. About 700 members of the local Jewish community came together in support of Israel. And talking to constituents there and my other Jewish constituents, Bradfield has the second largest Jewish community of any electorate in New South Wales. They are rightly very concerned. You've got parents worried about allowing their children to walk to school, you know, dressed in the uniform of a Jewish school or otherwise being identifiable as Jewish. So this is these are very troubling times and what we need is a prime minister who is taking the lead on this, reassuring Australians about their safety. And of course, it's not just Jewish Australians who are alarmed. I think all reasonable Australians would be alarmed at the kind of spectacles that we've seen and you know, mobs of Hamas sympathisers coming together, burning flags, burning Israeli flags and engaging in the sort of disgraceful chants that we've seen. And there's a real question as to how much of this conduct is in breach of existing state or federal legislation. And we certainly call upon state governments and the Commonwealth government to be vigorous in pursuing those who may have breached legislation.

KIERAN GILBERT: Paul Fletcher, thanks. We'll talk to you soon. Appreciate it.