Members Statement: Malka Leifer

Mr SOUTHWICK (Caulfield) (09:38:13) — I am pleased to report to the house that after a 10-year struggle to have former Adass Israel School principal Malka Leifer extradited back to Australia, she has been arrested in Israel pending further investigation. In 2008 Leifer fled Victoria facing 74 charges of indecent assault and rape. After numerous failed attempts Israeli police now claim she has been faking a mental illness to avoid extradition to Australia. Although there is a lot more to go before justice is served in this case, this is an important breakthrough.

I want to pay tribute to child abuse survivor Dassi Erlich, who has never given up on this fight, along with her sisters Elly Sapper and Nicole Meyer and many others who have fought in this important struggle.

In April last year former Premier Ted Baillieu suggested I make contact with Dassi to see what we could do. This resulted in me raising this with the Premier in Parliament. The Premier certainly raised it in his visit to Israel. There were 17 000 signatures on a petition that was presented when I visited the Knesset in Israel. I presented it to Likud member Sharren Haskel and Labor member Michal Biran, both of whom have been fighting for justice on this case. On my second visit in October last year, with Dassi and her sisters, we also met justice minister Ayelet Shaked and Israel’s chief prosecutor to see what they could do in this case.

My efforts have only been small compared to the many that have assisted with this case. From the Prime Minister to the Premier down, so many have advocated for justice in the Leifer case. My plea today is for us all not to give up and to ensure justice is served and Leifer comes back to face the courts.