Ban ‘must be done properly’
In an exclusive sitdown with the Victorian premier, The AJN quizzed Daniel Andrews on the progress of a bill to prohibit 'Heil Hitler' salutes.
“GETTING this right is perhaps more important than doing it quickly.” That was Premier Daniel Andrews’ cautionary take on proposed legislation outlawing Nazi salutes in Victoria.
In an exclusive sitdown with The AJN during a visit to St Kilda Shule, Andrews was asked about progress on a bill to prohibit ‘Heil Hitler’ salutes, which his government put forward after neo-Nazis staged a group salute on the steps of Victoria’s Parliament House in March at an anti-transgender rights rally.
The March 18 event has caused a political whirlwind in the Liberal Party over MP Moira Deeming’s promotion of the rally. The Liberals softened an initial motion to expel her from the Parliamentary party, voting instead to suspend the Western Metropolitan MLC for nine months.
Deeming last week reportedly threatened legal action against Liberal leader John Pesutto for allegedly associating her with neo-Nazis, later denying she was planning a lawsuit. However, Pesutto has backed a second motion to expel Deeming.
Prompted on some of these events last Friday, Andrews stated only, “There are some people in the state Parliament and their politics is all about them.” Describing “very worrying signs across Victoria that antisemitic incidents are on the rise”, he said, “There are many members of the Jewish community that are particularly concerned.”
Stating that Attorney-General Jaclyn Symes has briefed cabinet on a proposed Nazi salutes ban, he cautioned, “That needs to be done carefully and it needs to be done properly. There’s some learnings out of Europe both on how you might do it, but also some examples where there’s been some legal challenges and laws have been struck down.”
Asked about the Jewish Community Council of Victoria’s new Jewish Immersion Program and Teacher Antisemitism Training, which is a partnership with the Department of Education, Andrews stated that if people in key service delivery roles “are informed … have knowledge rather than ignorance, know and understand just how vibrant, how generous, how peaceful … Victoria’s Jewish community is, then they are enriched by that”.
He emphasised his government’s partnership with the Gandel Foundation in rolling out the Yad Vashem program for years 9 and 10 students to teach young people “not just the good history [but] the worst of history”.
On his visit, the Premier met St Kilda Shule’s Rabbi Yaakov Glasman and board members. The rabbi later said Andrews and his government “have been absolutely committed to advancing the cause of multiculturalism in Victoria”.