FEDERAL MP Josh Burns has hit back at the National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU) after its NSW secretary continued to stand by sacked academic Dr Tim Anderson.
Anderson’s employment was terminated by the University of Sydney in February 2019 after he shared lecture materials that included an image of a swastika superimposed over an Israeli flag on social media.
The Federal Court dismissed an NTEU appeal against the sacking last November, but the union is now appealing that ruling on the basis of protecting academic freedom.
In a letter to NTEU NSW Division secretary Michael Thomson, Macnamara MP Burns said societies and institutions “must draw a line between free speech and hate speech” and the swastika “is never acceptable”.
“When one uses racist hate speech or symbols to make a point, they are not expressing academic freedom, and they do great harm to Jewish people and victims of Nazism,” the Jewish MP wrote.
But Thomson told media Anderson’s actions “fell within the bounds of reasonable academic inquiry”.
Burns told The AJN this week “it’s disappointing” the NTEU has chosen to stand by Anderson. “Freedom of speech should not be used as an excuse to defend hate speech,” he said. “Tim Anderson’s use of the swastika is indefensible.”
Noting the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance defines equating Israel with Nazism as a form of antisemitism, Executive Council of Australian Jewry co-CEO Alex Ryvchin added, “An academic engaging in gross distortion of the Holocaust by equating the national home of the Jewish people with the ideology that almost achieved the extermination of the Jewish people, is not a cause that the NTEU should be associating itself with. They are backing a loser and will damage the union’s reputation as a result.”