Release type: Transcript

Date:

Interview - Sky News Live with Peta Credlin

Ministers:

The Hon Alan Tudge MP
Minister for Education and Youth

Subjects: new international definition of anti-Semitism, anti-discrimination legislation introduced by Vic Government and social media being linked to anxiety and depression.

 

PETA CREDLIN:

Between 2013 and 2017, there were almost 700 incidents of anti-Semitism across Australia. Disturbingly, the problem’s getting worst, with Jewish groups reporting a sharp uptick in anti-Semitic violence and threats on university campuses in the broader community. Enter Education Minister Alan Tudge. He’s calling for the Federal Government to endorse a new definition of anti-Semitism to make it easier for police to identify anti-Semitic incidents and to bring those responsible to justice. Alan Tudge joins me now.

Minister, explain to viewers at home, if you wouldn’t mind, what this new definition is, and why, if we do endorse it, you believe it’s going to help end the scourge of anti-Semitism in Australia?  

ALAN TUDGE:

G’day, Peta, this is an international definition, which has been agreed by many countries and of course, this definition includes the traditional forms of anti-Semitism such as calling for the killing of Jews or making fun of Jewish people because of what they look like. It also includes other forms of anti-Semitism, such as holding an individual responsible for the actions of Israeli Government, for example, or for equating the actions of the Israeli government today with that of Nazi Germany back in the ’30s and ‘40s. This international definition is important. I think if we adopt it as a policy position in Australia. It provides that guidance for institutions and particularly our universities, to be able to call out core behaviour when they see it. It’s never going to stop anti-Semitism altogether. Anti-Semitism’s been going on for thousands of years. But it can make a difference, particularly in some of the anti-Semitism from the Left where we’ve seen very significant increases in recent times.

PETA CREDLIN:

I want to move to another issue, if I can. New anti-discrimination legislation is being put forward by the Victorian Government, which will ban religious schools from sacking or refusing to employ teachers on the basis of their sexuality or gender identity. Now, Minister, there's always been a bit of an understanding or an unwritten rule that religious schools would be allowed to hire people that agree with their faith, or at least people that are prepared to teach the faith and not contradict it, or openly disagree with that faith in that school. How doesn't this breach that understanding? And isn't this a breach of freedom of religion rights?

ALAN TUDGE:

Well, I think it's both of those things. Peta, I think we should call this out for what it is, and that is another attack by the Labor Party on Christian and other religious schools. And the Labor Party's got form in this Peta. They've tried to attack religious schools through funding, but they've lost that debate. They tried to attack them through not allowing them to open in certain places through what used to be the New Schools Policy, but colloquially was known as the No New Schools Policy, but they’ve lost that debate. Now they're going after recruitment practices and trying to effectively diminish a Christian school or a religious school through those practices. And I'll tell you what, Peta. This wasn't taken to the last election, despite it being quite a radical departure for these schools. I honestly question why it is a priority now in Victoria when we haven't had a normal term here in Victoria since 2019, and we still don't have a plan to open the schools here in Melbourne. Why isn't that the priority that we're talking about rather than this particular matter?

PETA CREDLIN:

Alright, well just touching on that point about lack of education for kids and all the pressures of lockdowns. Pretty disturbing findings in a study front page of The Australian today about the links between Instagram and social media representation that young people see of themselves and others, and anxiety and depression. Research from Facebook, which owns Instagram, was obtained by The Wall Street Journal, it shows that Instagram makes body image issues worse in one-in-three girls. And tragically, 13 per cent of British teenagers who reported suicidal thoughts linked it all back to Instagram. So if these tech giants know all of this, if this is in their research, and they're shutting down political views they don't like, how are they allowed to knowingly exploit the mental health of young girls here? Can Government do more?

ALAN TUDGE:

I think this is an absolute disgrace what these social media companies are doing. What came out today, as you pointed out, is they are aware of the damage which is being caused. Peta, particularly for girls in relation to eating disorders, which is such an insidious condition, and can be with you for many years, and if you have a severe form such as anorexia, one-in-five girls dies from it. Facebook are aware of the fact that their platforms contribute to this, but they aren't taking responsibility to do anything about it and I'm calling on them to step up and take responsibility, because as you point out, they are quite happy to get rid of certain political views and can do that seamlessly and quickly with their technology. I'm certain they could use the same sort of technology to ensure that teenage girls aren’t bombarded with damaging images contributing to such harm.

PETA CREDLIN:

Thank you, Minister. I have to say before we go, your defence of the flag and determination we don't learn to hate in the school curriculum has had a huge response here on Credlin. I think a lot of my viewers are saying, please keep up the fight. Alan Tudge, thank you for your time.

ALAN TUDGE:

Thanks very much, Peta.