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Ben Fordham, 2GB, 29 April 2024

TopicsKids Excursion for Palestine Solidarity, Pro-Palestine rallies on university campuses, weekend rallies against domestic violence.

Ben Fordham: Well, an anti-Israel group has hosted a protest for kids. The event was called `Kids Excursion for Palestine Solidarity’. It was hosted at Sydney University on Friday by a group called families for Palestine. And the footage is disturbing because it shows kids being encouraged by adults and chanting anti-Israel slogans into megaphones. You can hear the young voices on the recording, children as young as five or six, saying Israel’s a terrorist state and the Prime Minister is supporting genocide. Now, the host of the event is a Macquarie University academic Randa Abdel Fatah. Her university research project is being funded by an $800,000 Commonwealth grant. The Liberal Senator and Shadow Education Minister Sarah Henderson is appalled by this. She believes the minister Jason Clare is missing an action and she says the minister should be cancelling the grant immediately. No `if’s No buts. Sarah Henderson, the shadow education minister is on the line. Sarah, thanks for joining us.

Senator Henderson: Ben, a very good morning to you.

Ben Fordham: It’s appalling when you see kids as young as five or six being encouraged to say these things that they just wouldn’t understand.

Senator Henderson: It’s absolutely appalling, it’s indoctrination and it’s irresponsible. It makes my blood boil to hear those little voices saying the things that they’re saying. They don’t know what it means. And yet these horrendous activists encouraging them to, to go down the path which of course, encourages and fosters extremism, and it’s just appalling, and this academic Randa Abdel Fatah has an $837,000 Australian Research Council grant courtesy of the Australian taxpayer and that should be cancelled. The Australian taxpayer should not be funding her hatred, her hate speech, and her activism.

Ben Fordham: You’ve written to the minister saying, `I ask that you intervene and immediately withdraw this grant. I also request you investigate whether any grant funding should be recovered as a result of non-compliance with a grant conditions.’. So, there are strict rules around these grants, right?

Senator Henderson: There are indeed, and unfortunately, the education minister Jason Clare is missing in action. He even directly failed to condemn this kid’s excursion, dragging children as young as five or six to Sydney University to take them to the encampment, putting them at risk. It’s absolutely appalling. And of course, Jason Clare has a very high Muslim population. So, I think he’s more concerned about his own political survival than doing the right thing as the education minister. And frankly, if he cannot take the action to throw the book at universities to combat anti-Semitism, particularly at Melbourne Uni and Sydney Uni where it is running out of control, then he should resign.

Ben Fordham: It’s always the lowest common denominator, isn’t it, when adults drag kids along into a protest because they know that the kids will get the attention but at the same time the kids don’t get a choice.

Senator Henderson: Look, it’s absolutely terrible. We’ve seen horrific levels of anti-Semitism at the universities, slogans, protests and these encampments, classroom invasions, Israeli academics been blockaded into rooms or cancelled. But honestly, this is the final straw. What is Sydney University doing? Why is it allowing this horrific harassment? It must be against the law. Have the police being called? Have students been disciplined? Have they been expelled or suspended? There are all sorts of things that the university should be doing. And frankly, the education minister should be hauling the vice chancellor over the coals for not taking the appropriate action and shutting this down.

Ben Fordham: We appreciate you joining us to talk about that. On another issue, if I can, tens of thousands of Aussies have taken to the streets to rally against violent men who abuse women over the weekend. Did you join any of those demonstrations?

Senator Henderson: Look, I didn’t. But as you will know, the Coalition believes that this issue is well above politics. This is an absolute scourge. We have a very strong record. Of course, when we were in government, but frankly, it is just absolutely unacceptable. Twenty-seven women have already been killed this year from gender violence. So, we support anything and everything that the government can do to combat this terrible situation.

Ben Fordham: We appreciate you jumping on the line. We’ll see what Jason Clare has to say.

Senator Henderson: Thanks so much, Ben.

Ben Fordham: Sarah Henderson, the Shadow Minister for Education.

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