Peter Dutton
Peter Dutton accused the prime minister of downplaying the extent of anti-Semitism. Image by Steven Saphore/AAP PHOTOS
  • politics

Labor enabled spread of anti-Semitism: Dutton

April 10, 2024

Opposition Leader Peter Dutton has accused Anthony Albanese of enabling anti-Semitism to fester, blaming the prime minister for what he labelled a “national moral fog”.

Delivering the seventh Tom Hughes Oration in Sydney, Mr Dutton said the prime minister’s leadership has been lacking throughout a “supine law enforcement response to incidents of anti-Semitism across the states”.

“The prime minister and members of his government have downplayed the unprecedented level of anti-Semitism afflicting our country by dishonestly treating it as analogous with other forms of prejudice,” he said on Wednesday.

“Additionally, what should have been clear-cut condemnations of anti-Semitism from the Labor Party have been clouded by instances of moral equivalence and moral ambiguity.

“What remains is a national moral fog which has made anti-Semitism permissible.”

Peter Dutton
 Mr Dutton took aim at the government as he delivered the seventh Tom Hughes Oration in Sydney. Image by Steven Saphore/AAP PHOTOS 

Mr Dutton said the nation needed a “reassertion of our cultural values” following pro-Palestinian protests at the Sydney Opera House.

He also questioned whether the nation’s highest-ranking police officers were “reluctant to enforce the law” for fear of stoking tensions, saying it was “astonishing” how few arrests had been made over anti-Semitic incidents.

The opposition leader took aim at migrants who he accused of importing “the hatred of other homelands into our own home.”

“The events of the Sydney Opera House have shone a light on the fact that there are people in our country today who do not subscribe to our liberal democratic values,” Mr Dutton said.

“There are people in our country today who have ripped up the social contract.”

John Howard and Peter Dutton
 Former prime minister John Howard was among the attendees for Mr Dutton’s speech on Wednesday. Image by Steven Saphore/AAP PHOTOS 

Mr Dutton took aim at the government’s foreign policy positions which he claimed had exposed a “clear prejudice” towards Israel.

He said Labor had failed to provide the moral clarity to distinguish the “lawful from the lawless, which differentiates civilisation from barbarism, and which discerns the good from the evil”.

Foreign Minister Penny Wong’s remarks that the government could recognise a Palestinian state were labelled “utterly illogical, ill-timed and inappropriate”.

“For a crass domestic political win, Penny Wong has irreparably damaged our relations with our ally Israel,” Mr Dutton said.

“It is the most reckless act of a foreign minister I have seen in my 22 years in the parliament – and it has weakened our international standing.”

Senator Wong has stressed that it was in Israel’s best interest to ensure any investigation into the deaths of seven aid workers last week was transparent.

Australian Zomi Frankcom was among the group killed during the Israeli military’s strikes on a World Central Kitchen convoy as they were delivering food in Gaza.

Former defence force chief Mark Binskin has been appointed by the federal government as a special adviser to Australia on Israel’s investigation of the incident.

The seven World Central Kitchen workers
 The seven World Central Kitchen workers killed in Gaza on April 1 in the Israeli airstrikes. Image by AP PHOTO 

Senator Wong and Defence Minister Richard Marles have written a letter to the Israeli government urging that action be taken against Israel Defence Forces personnel who did not act within the law.

But Israel was yet to respond to the letter.

As the conflict in the Middle East enters its seventh month, the foreign minister has urged greater social cohesion within Australian Jewish and Muslim communities.

Hamas attacked southern Israel on October 7 which killed 1200 people, and more than 250 people were taken hostage.

More than 33,000 Palestinians have been killed in the conflict that followed, Gaza’s health ministry says.

Most of the strip’s 2.3 million people are homeless and many are at risk of starvation.