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

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