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Leeser outlines terms of proposed judicial inquiry into campus antisemitism

‘This Bill is a test for all members of the Parliament about whether they take the ugly rise antisemitism on our university campuses seriously’

Member for Berowra Julian Leeser.
Member for Berowra Julian Leeser.

Jewish federal MP Julian Leeser has outlined the terms of reference for a judicial enquiry into antisemitism on campus that he hopes to advance with a soon-to-be-introduced private member’s Bill.

Speaking at the Adelaide Holocaust Museum last Friday, the Member for Berowra said “the growth of antisemitism and the inability of leaders in our community to have the moral clarity to push back against it is a sign of a dangerous fraying of the Australian social fabric”.

“I have spent the last few weeks meeting with Jewish students and academics hearing about what life is like on Australia’s university campuses and the picture I have been presented with is depressing.”

He said only a judicial inquiry “will achieve the cultural change that is needed” across the university sector.

“Only a judicial inquiry will have the necessary powers to summon witnesses, search and seize documents, cross examine university leaders and provide an independent, impartial and safe environment to allow Jewish students and staff to come forward without repercussions,” he added.

Leeser said a judicial inquiry would report on academic incidents – including harassment, intimidation, violence, advocacy or glorification of violence and/or support for listed terrorist organisations – before and after October 7, the response of universities and whether it has been adequate.

It would look at what steps universities have taken to recognise the uniqueness of antisemitism, including adopting a definition, what policies and procedures they have in place and how they are enforced, and what steps are being taken to ensure the safety of Jewish students and staff.

It would also focus on how universities are ensuring antisemitic content is not included in course and teaching materials, and what support arrangements are available for staff and students experiencing antisemitism.

Recommendations may include institution-specific or sector-wide policy changes, legislative or regulatory changes to protect Jews on campus if needed, education programs, and legislative, regulatory or policy changes to allow sanctions to be imposed on those engaging in antisemitic conduct or on universities that fail to take adequate steps to address antisemitism.

“This Bill is a test for all members of the Parliament about whether they take the ugly rise antisemitism on our university campuses seriously,” Leeser said.

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