The following is the response to the Jewish Community Council Questionnaire, received from Dr Bill Leadbetter, Labor for Hasluck.
1. Safety and Security
The Jewish community has a legitimate concern about the safety and security of its members and institutions. I have seen Australian synagogues defaced with vile graffiti; I can remember the concern when Central Synagogue in Sydney burned down in 1994 that it had been arson and not (as proved subsequently) an electrical fault. I have been privileged to teach, meet with and know the children and grandchildren of Holocaust survivors. It is a disgrace that any racial, religious or ethnic group in Australia has a need to feel concern about the physical safety and well-being of its community. If and where it can be shown that members of the Jewish community face concerns for their safety and security I commit to working with existing law enforcement to ensure the community's protection. I also commit to assisting and advocating for increased government aid for necessary security infrastructure, particularly around sites like synagogues and schools
2. Private Schools
My position on this is consistent with the Labor Party position on school funding, both private and public
3. Religious FreedomObservance of the Jewish religion and customs include the ritual circumcision (“brit milah”) of male children at the age of 8 days, and observing Jewish dietary laws (eating food that is rabbinically-certified as kosher). Do you envisage making changes to any of the following? If so, what changes?
4. IsraelOur community overwhelmingly supports Zionism as the modern political movement for the self-determination of the Jewish people; and Israel as the homeland of the Jewish people.
I couldn't be stronger in my support for Israel as a homeland for the Jewish people. That is it's very purpose
I don't believe that journalists or news media organisations take their cues on journalistic tone or content from politicians. However, what I can and will do as a member of Parliament is to promote the truth about Israel and Middle East, whether that be through speeches, interviews, media comment generally or my own political material.
Arab leaders have created a culture of death that motivates terrorism. (Refer to Appendix 2 – Incitement to Terror.) Do you consider that Australia could make a practical difference, especially considering that about a third of the Palestinian Authority’s budget is financed by foreign aid?
The Palestinian people are the highest recipients of UN aid, per capita, of any people group anywhere in the world. The United Nations Relief Works Agency is set up solely to service the Palestinian people – no other people group on earth has a UN agency devoted entirely to them. Despite this, most Palestinians languish in poverty and lack basic educational, health and economic opportunities.
The predominant reason for this is the corruption, misappropriation and rhetoric of the Palestinian leadership. Many if not most of the leaders of Fatah and Hamas are not friends of the poor – they are, rather, friends of poverty.Australian aid money should never be knowingly spent on corrupt activity, much less be allowed to be siphoned into violent activity. Hamas in particular has been credibly shown to have appropriated international aid money for weapons purchases and the building of terrorist infrastructure; in the process, a good many of UNRWA's staff and facilities have been co-opted into the attempt by Hamas to murder Israeli civilians and attack Israeli communities. While there is, sadly, a limit to the influence Australia has within the UN, I would strongly support withdrawing any aid that can be shown to have been used in this way (be it within the Middle East or in any other context).
There have been calls for unilateral recognition of a “Palestinian” State that does not yet exist. (Refer to Appendix 3 – Unilateral Recognition of a “Palestinian State”.) Will you take any action to oppose Australian recognition of such a unilateral declaration?
In the lead-up to the last National Conference of my party (the Labor Party,) in 2015 attempts were made by some individuals to include unilateral recognition of a state of Palestine within the Party platform. Then-Senator Joe Bullock of WA, himself a strong supporter of the State of Israel and the Jewish community, published an opinion piece in the Australian newspaper condemning the move
5. Global Antisemitism
I oppose the BDS campaign and am pleased that the Labor Party's platform likewise rejects it.
Should there be any attempt to change this position inside the Labor Party I will be one of the first to fight that change.
6. Antisemitism in Australia
· Sections 18C and 18D of the Racial Discrimination Act.
· The activities of radical preachers in schools and religious institutions.
· Public and school education campaigns against violent and/or extremist ideologies.
As an historian, I know where anti-Semitic language leads. There is a necessary link between word, intention and act. I will not be a bystander. I strongly support protections against promoting racial hatred, including the retention of sections 18C and 18D of the Racial Discrimination Act in their current form. I know where tolerance of the intolerable leads, and regard such legislation as a necessary clarification of what freedom of speech actually means.
Labor leader Bill Shorten has likened radical preachers, and those who preach hatred, to predators who target children and teenagers. It’s an assessment with which I agree. To combat this I would urge governments to introduce a program of education in schools; if it's good enough to teach our young children tolerance for those in alternative sexual and gender lifestyles, its good enough to teach our children tolerance and acceptance for all racial and religious and ethnic backgrounds.
7. Relations with IranIran continues to contravene its international obligations and remains the greatest state sponsor of global terrorism. (Refer to Appendix 5 – Iran: a Rogue State.)
· further relaxation of sanctions and expansion of trade
Liberal Foreign Minister Julie Bishop has disgracefully entered into intelligence-sharing deals with Iran, as well as entertaining the establishment of an Iranian embassy in Melbourne. These are decisions with which I strongly disagree.
Along with Labor figures like Michael Danby, I oppose these measures and any others like them.