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Kenny Report, Sky News, 16 May 2024

Topics: Letter to the Prime Minister seeking a judicial inquiry into antisemitism, university encampments, inaction from the education minister.

Chris Kenny: I want to stick with this issue now, though, and go to the Shadow Education Minister, Sarah Henderson, who joins me here on the desk. Sarah, Susie Smith, you weren’t able to hear her. She’s a Holocaust survivor. She talks about these chants of `Intifada’ and `From the River to the Sea’ as incitement. They traumatise Jewish Australians, obviously, and upset a lot of people. And she says that’s where the police and the university leaders in this country have to draw the line.

Senator Henderson: Chris, this is a very serious situation on university campuses, the incitement and the hate. The antisemitism must stop. We have seen a failure of leadership from some university chancellors and also the government. The education minister, Jason Clare, has shown a real lack of moral courage. We need this dramatically to stop. And that’s, of course, why the Coalition, along with a number of non-government members and senators, has written to the Prime Minister today, calling for a judicial inquiry into antisemitism on university campuses.

Chris Kenny: Well, look, this is such a, it’s been a slow motion train wreck, right? I mean, I can go back to October last year where I was critical of federal and state governments for not doing enough to condemn the protests right at the start and by not being strong enough early enough this stuff has gotten out of hand. Now there is promising, there are promising signs from the universities now and at least three universities, ANU, Melbourne, Deakin all saying that they’ll get rid of the protests, but they’ve done nothing about it yet. They seem to expect that the protesters will just cave in and walk away. They won’t, will they? They’ll have to call in police?

Senator Henderson: Well, Deakin’s leadership has been very impressive. They are acting and that is very important. But as I say, we have not seen from Jason Clare who hasn’t even opposed the encampments. They are inciting hate and antisemitism like we’ve never seen before in this country.

Chris Kenny: Let me just jump in there. That’s the easiest thing, isn’t it, for any university? Say you can’t camp on the grounds, forget about what you’re saying or doing. People can come in and protest each day if they like, but you can’t camp there.

Senator Henderson: Chris, the Coalition has been so strong on this. Get rid of the encampments. If there is suspected or likely criminal activity, call the police in on every single occasion. If a student is intimidating or harassing or discriminating, throw the book at them, investigate them and expel them if necessary. The universities have been far too soft. Frankly, what we are seeing at the University of Sydney, where Mark Scott, the Vice Chancellor, is saying, yes, we welcome these encampments. I mean, these are cesspits of activism They are dangerous. And the government must stand up to this. The government must say, we will not tolerate this.

Chris Kenny: The government now has a Senator, a Labor Party Senator, saying that Israel is committing genocide and chanting `From the River to the Sea’. Alexander Downer later in this program will tell me that this Senator, Fatima Payman, should be expelled from the Labor Party. That may or may not be the case, but certainly she should have to be dismissed, shouldn’t she, From the Joint Parliamentary Committee on Defence and Foreign Affairs?

Senator Henderson: Well, we have called on the Prime Minister to determine the action that he’s going to take. Frankly, he has shown weak, not strong leadership. Her comments were absolutely disgraceful. And I have to say, in relation to that chant, I’m very pleased to see today, Monash is making it very clear. If you chant `River to the Sea’, there will be disciplinary action taken against you. That is unacceptable. That is calling for the annihilation of Israel. It is causing so much distress to Jewish Australians, particularly on campuses. But we have seen this government talking out of both sides of the mouth. The Prime Minister says he won’t tolerate antisemitism, but he is not showing Australians that he will not stand up to it. And as I say, I mean, frankly, Jason Clare, the weasel words from Jason Clare, who set up this sham of a racism inquiry, who would not even condemn children being encouraged to chant `Intifada’. The lack of leadership and moral courage is disgusting. We need this to change because this is dividing Australia. It’s not just on the universities, Chris. We need to bring Australians together. And this week Prime Minister is just not up to the job, frankly.

Chris Kenny: Sarah Henderson, thanks for joining us I appreciate it. Can’t disagree with any of that.

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