Walt Secord, “Something is deeply wrong when the Education Department is only concerned about the rights of the person who posted pro-Hitler comments rather than disciplining them”
The Australian Jewish News
August 26, 2021
THE NSW Department of Education has told The AJN “appropriate action will be taken” against a staff member who earlier this year posted a comment on Facebook saying “it’s such a shame [Hitler] didn’t finish his job”.
The comment, which appeared under a photo of the Nazi leader, was left on the Australasian Union of Jewish Students (AUJS) Victoria’s Facebook page in May.
Three months on, however, The AJN understands the staffer remains in their role, and a freedom of information request by NSW Labor frontbencher Walt Secord, who sought details on what action was taken against the employee, was denied in a rejection letter by the Education Department.
The department argued, “There is an overriding public interest against disclosure of the information,” adding, “the public interest in protecting the [employee’s] privacy considerably outweighs the public interest in releasing their personal information to you.”
Secord lamented, “Something is deeply wrong when the Education Department is only concerned about the rights of the person who posted pro-Hitler comments rather than disciplining them.”
He added, “This is political correctness gone mad. Why is the Education Department shielding an employee who posted antisemitic pro-Hitler comments?”
Meanwhile, in a letter to NSW Education Minister Sarah Mitchell this week, NSW Jewish Board of Deputies CEO Darren Bark said the refusal by her department to release relevant information “has been met with considerable disappointment”.
“Transparency in relation to the status of this individual’s employment with the Department of Education, and the timeframes associated with the conclusion of the investigation would go a long way to reassuring the community that your Department is addressing this issue appropriately and promptly,” Bark said.
AUJS’ political affairs director Gabi Stricker-Phelps told The AJN, “It is concerning that anyone would express such a hateful view, let alone someone who is associated with the NSW Department of Education.
“We call on the Minister and her Department to share the outcome of the investigation given the seriousness of the comment in the context of rising antisemitism on university campuses and in the education sector more broadly.”
A NSW Education spokesperson told The AJN, “We reject racism in all its forms … The matter is being investigated by the professional and ethical standards unit, and it is inappropriate to comment further. Once the investigation is complete, appropriate action will be taken.”