Julian Lesser MP – speech calling on ACTU’s Sally McManus to be condemned for supporting Palestine and BDS

photo of Julian Leeser MP
March 30, 2017

Sally McManus’s support for the BDS campaign was galvanised by a… study tour to the Middle East. On her return, she became an activist for the BDS cause, saying that the trip drove home to her ‘the daily sufferings of the Palestinian people as workers, women, refugees, children, families and communities under occupation’. She said it had: … a very big impact on my views and ever since then I’ve had a fairly high level of interest.

Full speech

Mr LEESER (Berowra) (12:30): Deputy Speaker, I seek leave to speak without closing the debate.

Leave granted.

Mr LEESER: Yesterday we saw the latest instalment in the appalling conduct of the new secretary of the ACTU, Sally McManus. Yesterday, Ms McManus said she had supported efforts by Marrickville Council some years ago to implement the controversial boycott, divestment and sanctions policy against Israel, in her then capacity as secretary of the New South Wales ASU. She also stated that she personally had supported a boycott only of companies operating out of the settlements. Ms McManus has been a most enthusiastic supporter of the BDS campaign. As well as writing a letter of support to the Greens mayor of Marrickville, a ‘Sally McManus,’ as an individual resident of the Marrickville municipality, signed an open letter to Marrickville Council, strongly supporting all organisations and individuals who had endorsed the worldwide movement for the boycott, divestment and sanctions of products and services linked with Israel. The open letter’s stated purpose was to support Marrickville Council’s endorsement of the global campaign of boycott, divestments and sanctions. The second clause of the resolution passed by Marrickville Council stated:

Marrickville Council boycott all goods made in Israel and any sporting, academic institutions, government or institutional cultural exchanges.

Sally McManus’s support for the BDS campaign was galvanised by an APHEDA, or Union Aid Abroad, study tour to the Middle East. On her return, she became an activist for the BDS cause, saying that the trip drove home to her ‘the daily sufferings of the Palestinian people as workers, women, refugees, children, families and communities under occupation’. She said it had:

… a very big impact on my views and ever since then I’ve had a fairly high level of interest.

She also said:

It gave me the confidence to participate in debates and discussions from a perspective that is at least a bit informed and has a point of reference.

And participate she did. Shortly after her return, her ASU branch passed a resolution supporting ‘consumer boycotts of products made in the illegal settlements, as well as consumer boycotts of companies who assist in or profit from the occupation of Palestinian territories’. Ms McManus even argued publicly for boycott, divestment and sanctions, headlining a Politics in the Pub forum entitled, ‘Holding Israel accountable: the BDS campaign’.

Yesterday Sally McManus reaffirmed her support for the BDS campaign, at least with regard to companies operating out of the settlements. Various leaders have expressed profound concern at Ms McManus’s support for the BDS campaign. The executive director of the Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council, Colin Rubenstein, said:

We can only hope that with the passage of time, Ms McManus has become better informed as to the way this proposal damages prospects of peace, furthers racism and hurts Palestinian and other workers.

Dr Dvir Abramovich, chair of the B’nai B’rith Anti-Defamation Commission, has said: ‘It is highly disappointing that a leader of a major union such as the ACTU supports the one-sided and hypocritical BDS campaign that traffics in discrimination and in a fervently vicious anti-Israel message that seeks to isolate and demonise the Jewish state.’ Despite saying that the BDS campaign would not be a priority for her as secretary of the ACTU, Sally McManus’s support for BDS is making her a poster girl for BDS campaigners at home and abroad—such as Justice for Palestine Brisbane, Sydney Staff for BDS at the University of Sydney, and BDS Amsterdam. More disturbingly, Ms McManus’s support for BDS has been supported and endorsed by Greens figures like Bruce Knobloch and Hall Greenland, who have been linked to the Left Renewal push inside the New South Wales Greens. Left Renewal explicitly calls on the Greens to ‘openly and wholly support the BDS campaign’—which it maintains is actually Greens policy in he New South Wales. Sadly, yesterday Sally McManus pointedly failed to repudiate the vile BDS campaign and in fact reiterated her personal support for it.

This is a very important issue. The Leader of the Opposition should denounce Ms McManus’s support for BDS, as he has already done in relation to her support for breaking the law, and the Greens leader, Senator Richard Di Natale, should reiterate that the Greens do not support the BDS campaign, which is being pushed by many Greens members in New South Wales and across the country.

Link to parliamentary Hansard

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