Extremists on ‘get Josh’ crusade
A senior government frontbencher has accused failed independent candidate Oliver Yates and Greens-aligned lawyer Julian Burnside of being “pathetic extremists”, labelling the campaign against Josh Frydenberg’s eligibility to sit in parliament as anti-Semitic.
Housing Minister Michael Sukkar also rounded on Kooyong resident and climate activist Michael Staindl who has mounted a High Court challenge to the Treasurer’s re-election on the claim that Mr Frydenberg was entitled to Hungarian citizenship through his mother, a Holocaust survivor.
Mr Staindl has revealed he is filing his challenge because Mr Frydenberg had “constantly betrayed him” on the issue of climate change.
The IT specialist and activist has a longstanding vendetta against the Treasurer and has been pictured in multiple social media posts protesting outside the Treasurer’s office in Kooyong.
In a 2018 letter, published in The Age, Mr Staindl wrote: “I have never felt so betrayed by a political representative as by Mr Frydenberg over the existential crisis in the Liberal Party. He would be well advised to pay close attention to the new eXtinction Rebellion (XR) movement and meme, as it may mean his own political extinction.”
In May of this year Mr Staindl also shared a Facebook memory in which his elderly mother was pictured dressed as a “climate change angel” outside Mr Frydenberg’s office.
Mr Staindl told The Australian to “f..k off’ when he was approached outside his Hawthorn home yesterday.
Trevor Poulton — a lawyer who has written a book called The Holocaust Denier — had previously told The Australian he was working with Yates’s “Kooyong Independents Group” to test the Treasurer’s citizenship status.
In an extraordinary attack under parliamentary privilege, Mr Sukkar, the member for the Melbourne-based seat of Deakin said the campaign against Mr Frydenberg was driven by “a small number of disgruntled, debauched political activists”.
He described it as “so offensive, so disgusting and so abhorrent.”
“Staindl, and his fellow travellers like Yates, have stooped to the lowest of the low, trying to get Frydenberg thrown out of the parliament just weeks after the people of Kooyong emphatically endorsed him for a fourth time,” Mr Sukkar told parliament.
“You see, Yates’s father, William Yates, who also served in this place, has been reported as calling ‘international Zionism’ a ‘terrorist military organisation’.
“People could legitimately ask, ‘Has the apple fallen far from the tree?’
“True to form, the citizenship challenge has also been supported by the other failed candidate in Kooyong, the Greens’ Julian Burnside.
“Burnside is on the record as supporting the BDS, the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions, movement against Israel, which is of its nature anti-Semitic.
“Burnside has also trivialised the Holocaust by equating Peter Dutton on social media to a Nazi officer — something which Holocaust survivors have said publicly is deeply offensive to them.
“What is with these pathetic extremists? Yates, Burnside, Poulton and Staindl.”
Speaking to The Australian last night, Mr Yates criticised Mr Sukkar’s comments as “totally pathetic”.
“Using parliamentary privilege to claim I’m running an antiSemitic campaign when I’m not anti-Semitic and not involved in the section 44 claim is completely untrue and a total abuse of parliamentary privilege,” he said.
Mr Burnside said last night he had nothing to do with the High Court challenge and dismissed suggestions Oliver Yates was antiSemitic.
He described Mr Sukkar’s claims as “rubbish”.
“One thing is for sure, it’s not anti-Semitism. And, frankly, I think Michael Sukkar’s claims are outrageous,” Mr Burnside said.
He said he did think the section 44 challenge had merit and didn’t believe it was insensitive considering Mr Frydenberg’s relatives were fleeing the Holocaust.
Mr Yates, the former head of the Clean Energy Finance Corporation, was an independent candidate for Kooyong and won less than 9 per cent of the primary vote.
Marque Lawyers principal Michael Bradley, representing Mr Yates and Ms Hall, said the High Court should declare the Treasurer’s election void.
Mr Frydenberg has consistently denied that he had any citizenship issues under section 44 of the Constitution when his status was questioned through his mother Erica Strausz who was born in Hungary and escaped the Holocaust to Australia.
Mr Frydenberg has produced documents showing she arrived as a stateless child in 1950 after spending time in a refugee camp. His publicly available AEC qualifications record his mother as being born in Hungary and holding Hungarian citizenship from 1943-48.
“I have clear legal advice that I do not hold citizenship of another country,” Mr Frydenberg said on Wednesday.
Speaking in 2017, then Labor deputy leader Tanya Plibersek warned the questions about Mr Frydenberg’s eligibility for parliament were “getting into pretty disturbing territory”. “I mean, these people like many millions fled the Holocaust,’’ she said.
‘I have clear legal advice that I do not hold citizenship of another country” JOSH FRYDENBERG FEDERAL TREASURER
Activist Michael Staindl, who is challenging Josh Frydenberg’s election victory, outside his home in Melbourne yesterday