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Ben Fordham Live, 2GB, 7 May 2024

TopicsResolve Political Monitor, Dutton preferred PM in Queensland, Men deserting Albanese government, antisemitism, university encampments, failure of education minister Jason Clare to take action on hate speech, Jewish student fears.

Ben Fordham: Senator Sarah Henderson is the Shadow Minister for Education. She’s live in our Sydney studio today. Sarah Henderson. Good morning to you.

Senator Henderson: Ben, great to join.

Ben Fordham: A few things to discuss – why don’t I kick off, though with the Resolve Poll, first-of-all out today, that would be something. There are a few things. First-of-all, I can remember Anthony Albanese saying once that when he was touring around before the last election, he said, `You know the thing, usually when Labor people go to Queensland, you cop it, but he said I don’t cop it in Queensland’. Well, now he’s copped it in Queensland, that’ll be a worry for him. Dutton’s now the preferred Prime Minister in Queensland. And the other thing, men deserting Albo’ and the Labor Party, – what do you put all of this down to?

Senator Henderson: Well, Ben, I believe that Australians are seeing through this government. They’ve been very badly let down. We have a cost-of-living crisis in this country. And of course, the mismanagement of the detainees and the shocking images that we are seeing of that grandmother in Perth, which sum up the Labor government’s failure. I think Australians are saying now, `We’ve had enough’. And it’s a big thing to kick out a government after one term, but I think that’s where things are going because Anthony Albanese and his hapless government have fundamentally failed Australians.

Ben Fordham: You think it’s going to happen? You think they’re going to be a one term government?

Senator Henderson: I think they are going to be a one term government. They are going down the drain because they have let Australians down. They lied to Australians. They have broken promises. They’ve got all the wrong priorities. They spent 18 months talking about The Voice, which divided Australia, not brought Australians together. And now they are showing their incompetence in spades. The Prime Minister should sack his immigration minister, his home affairs minister, he doesn’t have the courage to do so. And Australians are seeing through it.

Ben Fordham: That holds him back, in some respects, doesn’t it? The inability to act on ministers who aren’t performing like Andrew Giles and Clare O’Neill, because when you do, when you move on people like that, that sends a message to the voters. All right. He’s the boss. He knows who’s good, and he knows who’s not.

Senator Henderson: Absolutely and that’s why I’ve said that he should also sack Jason Clare, the education minister. If Jason Clare is not prepared to do the job and stand up to antisemitism on university campuses. We have a shocking situation. On some university campuses, we are seeing a failure of leadership, a failure of moral courage. And Anthony Albanese needs to do something about his education minister as well. All right, I want

Ben Fordham: Alright, I want to hear your arguments for why Jason Clare should be sacked because I haven’t seen anything so far that puts him in the same category as Clare O’Neill and Andrew Giles. So why do you believe Jason Clare should go?

Senator Henderson: So, what I’m saying is unless he stands up to the antisemitism on university campuses, unless he takes a strong stand and says `We will not tolerate incitement, we will not tolerate hatred, we will not tolerate antisemitism’ – then he should go. So, he has got an opportunity to stand up and stop the hate. Stop the incitement, shut down the encampments, which are making university campuses, particularly Sydney and Melbourne, so unsafe. Not just for Jewish students, Ben, but for all students. This is a cesspit of activism. And as I say, unless this minister is prepared to do something about it, he should go.

Ben Fordham: It’s interesting, Sarah Henderson, you say `It’s not just Jewish students’, because I spoke to a student yesterday, and this person does not have a side of the argument that they support. I think that they feel a lot of sympathy for the Jewish people off the back of what happened on October 7, but also have some sympathy for the Palestinian cause as well. But what she said to me was, `I feel intimidated now when I turn up at Sydney University because this is tent city, you can’t walk through the main lawns without someone confronting you’.

Senator Henderson: That is absolutely right. And the Vice Chancellor Mark Scott has been far too weak. I personally think he should consider his position. If he’s not prepared to enforce his own codes of conduct. Ben, the bottom line is freedom of speech and freedom of assembly are fundamental rights. And there is no issue with protests, but they’ve got to be done in a way that doesn’t infringe on the rights of others. And I held a roundtable in Sydney yesterday with Jewish students and staff and community leaders, and they are saying it is unbearable, the intimidation, the harassment, the photographing, the stalking, the incitement. They are beside themselves. I heard the worst story yesterday, there is a student at Sydney Uni, whose cousin is a hostage. She was so distressed she applied for special consideration. And the university said to her, `We will only give you special consideration if you can prove that your cousin is a hostage’. Can you imagine the lack of empathy? I mean, that is disgraceful, Ben.

Ben Fordham: And I think when people start setting up tents, that should be a signal to people in charge. `Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, this is not just a standard protest. This is becoming a semi- permanent tent city, that’s been established here’. I don’t know how long it’s been there at Sydney University but we’re getting the photographs, what should happen to those tent setups?

Senator Henderson: The police should move in, and they should be removed. And this is one of the reasons that Jason Clare has so failed university students. No one can function at the university. As I say it’s an absolute cesspit of activism. Melbourne, Sydney and Monash are really bad. I have to say, the University of New South Wales under Attila Brungs, the Vice Chancellor, he is doing a brilliant job. So, some universities are stepping up. They are standing up for students, but Mark Scott, particularly, at Sydney University is absolutely failing his students. And as for Jason Clare, I mean, I have never seen weaker, more pathetic leadership. So, they need to go. All of the other carry-on that’s happening on the university needs to be brought to heel as well. And we need to see universities become places of education, not indoctrination. Every student has a right to be safe on a university campus.

Ben Fordham: Well, I’m glad you said that about the University of New South Wales – it’s good to balance things up. So New South Wales gets a tick and Uni Sydney, you get a cross. And at the end of the day, Sarah Henderson, people just want to go to school, right? That’s all they’re doing that they

Senator Henderson: They do. And the fact that the minister didn’t even directly condemn the children’s protest – where children were brought in …

Ben Fordham: So bad …

Sarah Henderson: They were encouraged to scream out `Intifada’, which of course is a call for violent terrorism against Israel. That is appalling. There was an academic at Macquarie University, Randa Abdel-Fattah, she should lose her Australian Research Council grant of $837,000. Jason Clare won’t stand upon that. There was an invasion of the classroom reported at Melbourne Uni, he said nothing about that. There’s the two Tel Aviv academics who are effectively barricaded or blockaded into a room. Jason Clare has said nothing about that. I can tell you if I was the education minister, and that is my plan, it would be a very different world under a Dutton-led Coalition.

Ben Fordham: Okay. I’m going to invite Jason Clare on the program and he’ll have a chance to respond to all of these issues. Thank you so much for coming in the studio this morning.

Senator Henderson: Thank you so much, Ben.

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