NSW Labor leader to address February plenum

By Rebecca Dukes

IF Luke Foley is elected Premier of New South Wales on March 23 next year, the law against incitement to racist violence will be overhauled.

His public pledge to strengthen the law will be the topic of his address to the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies plenum next week. 

A week after the NSW cabinet rejected a proposed bill to overhaul Section 20d of the NSW Anti-Discrimination Act on November 30 last year, NSW Opposition Leader Foley announced that within 100 days of being elected Premier in March 2019, he would fix the law.

Not a single person has been charged under this law since it was introduced about 30 years ago – this despite a public speech by the spiritual leader of Hizb ut-Tahrir in Sydney calling for death to Jews.

The Board of Deputies is part of the Keep NSW Safe alliance of 31 communities and prominent leaders which has been calling on the State Government to fix the legislation. Former Attorney General Gabrielle Upton promised to amend the law after acknowledging that it was broken.

It was her successor as AG, Mark Speakman, who took the proposed new law to the cabinet last November, but it was thrown out.

Foley was elected Member for Auburn in 2015 following after years in the NSW Legislative Council. He was appointed Leader of the Opposition in 2015.

He recently joined 200 people at the State Parliament’s annual pre-Chanukah celebration and quoted the 19th Century NSW parliamentarian Sir Julian Salomans saying: “I am a Jew. I was born a Jew … and I should be a poltroon and a coward, as well as a fool, if I were not proud of belonging to a race which has given an Isaiah to the world; the Psalms of David, and all the mighty mysteries of the Bible, upon which the civilisation, the consolation, and the happiness of the world depend.”

Addressing a Shabbat service and dinner hosted by the Board of Deputies at The Great Synagogue in March 2017, he said: “Labor will continue to do everything in its power to protect the rights of the Jewish community and to fight against anyone who strives to deprive them of those rights. Labor is pushing for a new offence to replace section 20D of the Anti-Discrimination Act, which has proven to be totally ineffective in preventing people from spreading incitement to racial violence, much of it directed towards the Jewish community.”

The NSW Jewish Board of Deputies plenum will be held on Tuesday 20 February at 7:30pm in Darlinghurst. Inquiries: 9360 1600.

Rebecca Dukes is the Saul Symonds Intern at the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies.