‘DEBATE BE ADJOURNED – ANTI-SEMITISM’.
Thursday, 17 August 2023.
Mr NEWBURY (Brighton) (11:16):
Today is an important, necessary, timely and urgent opportunity to debate an issue that needs to be debated today.
The House does need to adjourn debate on the Bill that it has been debating yesterday afternoon and this morning – we have had two separate days of debate on this Bill – to debate this absolutely urgent issue. It is an urgent issue because antisemitism is not only a scourge in our community, but it is a rising scourge in our community. It is not just a rising scourge in our community, it is now a daily event in Victoria – and it is just not okay.
In the last week we have seen, both in terms of objective reporting and incidents occurring, some of the most hurtful, upsetting, distressing things happening in our State, things that I would hope and feel sure none of us in this place would ever want to have happen or would ever tolerate. But it is not okay to just see those things happen – we need to stand up when they happen, especially like they have over the last week, and speak strongly about it.
We have seen an incident on a bus in the bayside region where schoolchildren were involved – a scary, violent incident. As a parent it just breaks my heart to think what those children went through. We have seen a Bayside non-Government school deal with an issue with one of their student’s behaviour on a Zoom call. We know there are issues in schools. We know that from not just this incident but numerous incidents over time. It is not just an issue for Government schools; this is an issue for schools – we know that – but we know that we have seen a horrific incident in the last week.
My colleague recently spoke on the results of the Australian Jewish University Survey. Those findings, frankly, should not only concern every Member of this place but make them recognise the need to deal with these matters, speak to these matters, call out these matters and make sure something is done about them. They are findings that we cannot accept as Victorians – we just cannot accept them as Victorians. It is so upsetting to know that two-thirds of Jewish students have experienced antisemitism at university, but that reflects what is happening more broadly.
I have spoken previously about the Executive Council of Australian Jewry’s antisemitism reports each year, and its most recent report shows a 7 per cent increase overall in reports just in this most recent reporting period. But we see it each and every year; each and every year we see an increase, a significant increase, and it is not okay. But neither is not doing enough about it.
I say to the Government that I recognise the financial commitment made in the most recent Budget, the $3 million. I recognise that commitment, and that is an important commitment, but no money as I understand it has been spent yet. So, I would say to the Government: I look forward to seeing announcements in relation to committing that money to important projects that actually take action. It is not good enough to just allocate money, we also need to spend it, targeted to where it is needed.
So I would say to the House that this is an important motion, a motion that we gave notice of, that we spoke about, that we sought an opportunity to move, and today should be an opportunity for all of us to not only stand up against antisemitism but also stand up against the hurtful, upsetting incidents of the last week and call them out as a Parliament in a bipartisan way.