Last Thursday Coalition WA Senator Dean Smith brought Attorney–General Senator George Brandis, Liberal candidate for Perth Jeremy Quinn, State MLC Peter Katsambanis and Liberal candidate for Cowan Craig Buchanan to meet with JCCWA members at a cordial afternoon tea in the Maurice Zeffert Home main hall. Senator Brandis gave a comprehensive address which covered the topics of interest to the Jewish community. Many thanks to Michael Preece, CEO of MZH, for hosting this function.
And on Monday evening at the Jewish Centre Perth ALP candidate Tim Hammond had an intense and friendly round table meeting with JCCWA members which centred around similar topics.
Many questions were put to party representatives covering areas of interest including communal security, education funding, religious freedom, racial vilification, Australia–Israel relations and recognition of a Palestinian state.
It must be said that both major parties were solidly committed to financially helping the Perth Jewish community secure its people and institutions and were open to approaches by our community after the election to improve our security measures.
On all other matters there was a bi-partisan expression of support and affection for the Jewish community, and the State of Israel. Both parties have promised to increase funding for independent schools, including Jewish schools, and they both have stated that they do not support repeal or amendment of sections 18C and 18D of the Racial Discrimination Act. Each party supports greater bilateral relations between Israel and Australia at all levels and completely reject the BDS campaign against Israel. Both parties favour maintaining existing laws regarding kosher slaughter of animals and they are both in favour of religious ministers deciding for themselves whether they wish to solemnize any marriage.
With regard to Palestinian statehood the Coalition rejects recognition of a Palestinian state other than in the context of a negotiated peace agreement with Israel. Tim Hammond for the ALP maintains the Labor position is identical although he acknowledges that a resolution was passed at last year’s ALP conference to consider recognizing a Palestinian state if the next negotiations fail to produce a two state solution. He is confident that if in government, such ALP action is highly unlikely to eventuate.
The JCCWA greatly appreciates the parties’ willingness to engage with the Jewish community and thanks all members who attended the meetings.
Further information on political parties’ positions on matters of interest to the Jewish community in Australia is available on the Executive Council of Australian Jewry’s website, www.ecaj.org.au, where their responses to an ECAJ questionnaire are published.
Jewish Community Council of WA