Comment draws ire

MOUNT LAWLEY Labor MP Simon Millman has condemned Liberal MP Jim Chown’s “Jews of Asia” remark, saying it follows an increase in intolerance that constituents have reported to him lately.

On Saturday The West Australian reported Mr Chown made the comment during a 2015 meeting in Shanghai, which he and other MPs attended to meet with Rio Tinto representatives to discuss iron ore.

The visit was organised by Chinese tech company Huawei, and Mr Chown said learning about Huawei’s tracking capabilities left him “distinctly uneasy”.

The West reports that when someone mentioned the Chinese were improving their contracting arrangements, Mr Chown said “oh, so they are the Jews of Asia then”.

Mr Millman represents several suburbs with large Jewish communities including Menorah and Yokine, and Mt Lawley is home to the Temple David synagogue.

“It has been very disquieting to see the increase in intolerance in our community. I’ve had a number of constituents raise their concerns about this sort of issue with me, which is why I’ve brought it up with the minister in the past month,” Mr Millman said.

“To see the comments that are reported in the West Australian provides an insight into the sort of attitude that is permeating and pervading the WA Liberal party.”

“It’s time for Dr Nahan to stand up and say he’s not going to tolerate this sort of antisemitism, this sort of prejudice from amongst his front bench.

“Now is the time for some real leadership from Liberal Party to demonstrate that they are a modern, mainstream political party and there’s no room for these sorts of comments.”

“It’s a really good opportunity for us to send a strong message to the community that we’re not just going to stand by and allow this sort of intolerance.”

Mr Chown, the shadow minister for regional development, has said he did not remember saying the “Jews of Asia” comment, but apologised if any offence was caused.

In November the executive council of Australian Jewry reported a 59 per cent rise in recorded antisemitic incidents from 2017 to 2018.

The report stated there had been “a noticeable emboldening of the far right,” with the rise of groups like The Lads Society, Antipodean Resistance, and the attempt of the far right to infiltrate the NSW Nationals party.

“Many far right individuals in Australia who were formerly active against Islam and Muslims during 2015-2017 have now switched their focus away from Muslims and towards Jews,” the report noted.

The register shows members of Antipodean Resistance, a neo-Nazi group founded in 2016, have begun operating in Perth.

The report also notes that new far right nationalist movement The Lads Society has plans to open a clubhouse in Perth. The Lads Society was cofounded by United Patriots Front leader Blair Cottrell, and operates under the veneer of improving the fitness of young men, while training them to fight.

In June 2018 outgoing racial discrimination commissioner Tim Soutphommasane warned we were “flirting with danger” in the debate over China’s influence and interference, saying the suspicion towards the Chinese state (and the companies it controls like Huawei) was in danger of spilling over into racism against Chinese people.


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