The September 7 Election is almost here, and Jewish voters will flock to polling booths in Wentworth, Melbourne Ports, Goldstein, Kingsford-Smith and more this Saturday (I mean, not on Shabbat!) - but who will you be voting for?
By/ September 04, 2013
And on what issues? Is there even such thing as Jewish issue? While the Jewish community can all agree the date is better off not being on Yom Kippur, that's about it. And like all good Jewish groups, AUJS loves healthy disagreement - so who better to try and sway your vote at the last minute than three politically active and interested members, each of whom have a very different opinion on which party will best suit Jews & Jewish students.
Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are those of the authors and they do not represent AUJS or the societies these members come from. AUJS has no organisational stance on the election and endorses no particular party.
Why I'm voting Liberal
By Matthew Lesh
The Liberal Party is the natural Party of Australian Jewry.
We have stood against the increasing attacks on Israel, and our community, from Labor and the Greens.
Labor Foreign Minister Bob Carr has claimed, incorrectly of course, that "all settlements are illegal". Carr forced Labor to support Australia abstaining at the United Nations on the question of unilaterally granting Palestine observer status. Carr has also mocked Michael Danby for being such a strong supporter of Israel: showing that even pro-Israel MPs in Labor now get made fun of by senior ministers.
Members of the Greens have supported Boycott, Divestments and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel, invited anti-Semites to events, and attended a Gaza rally where some attendees displayed swastikas. They have no authority or appeal to the Jewish community.
In contrast, the Liberal Party has consistently stood by Israel and the Jewish community.
This election, the Liberal Party has committed to, if elected:
Withdrawing government funding from organisations that support the BDS campaign.
Including Israeli citizens in the Australian Electronic Travel Authority.
Reviewing and baning additional extremist organisations.
Providing $18M in recurrent funding over three years for security guards for schools at risk.
Providing $50M to improve Jewish community security over four years as part of the ‘Safer Street, Safer Suburbs’ plan.
Never compromising on our strong support for Israel at the United Nations
The Liberal Party receives a high level of support from the Jewish community because our values overlap. The Liberal Party has stood up for individual enterprise and those who are willing to work hard to improve our standards of living. We have stood for lower taxes because we believe, fundamentally, you should not be told how to spend your money.
The Labor Party has had six years to improve Australia, they have failed. Their constant chaos, dysfunction, and disunity is running confidence. Their waste has caused a massive increase in debt. The $300B debt, which Labor has created by splurging the $60B Howard/Costello surplus, will have to be paid off with higher taxes and fewer services for years to come. We, as young people, will be most impacted by this debt as we will be around longer to pay it off.
This election we have a positive plan to improve Australian society into the future. We will build a stronger economy so that everyone can get ahead. We'll scrap the carbon tax. We’ll end the waste. We’ll build the roads of the 21st century. We’ll create 2 million new jobs. We will support school choice and independent school funding.
The only way to achieve a strong and stable government is to vote Liberal on Saturday.
Locally, we have fantastic candidates like Kevin Ekendahl: Kevin is of Jewish heritage and running on a platform of supporting Israel and the Jewish community, schools and education, jobs and the economy, and the environment and sustainability. Kevin, along with local Members of Parliament including Malcolm Turnbull, Andrew Robb, Kelly O’Dwyer, are committed supporters of the Jewish community and Israel.
The Liberal Party is the only choice for the Jewish community on September 7.
Matthew Lesh is Treasurer for MUJSS (AUJS at Melbourne University) and an active member of the Liberal Party and Caulfield Young Liberals.
Why I'm voting Labor
By Daniel Guttmann
As young people, we must think long-term more than older generations. We know that we are the ones who will inherit responsibility for Australia & the world in the future, and it’s for that reason that we have to consider what will make for a better nation in 20 years’ time, not just for the next 3 years of a Government. I am proud to be a member & candidate for the Australian Labor Party, the party that invests in building our nation. Labor is the party that will deliver a forward-thinking and world-class National Broadband Network that will set us up to be globally competitive in the technology age for decades, not just a few years before needing to upgrade again. This isn’t spending for the sake of it – it’s investing in what is clearly one of the most important tools in the modern world.
Labor is the party that has in the last 6 years passed historic Disability Care reforms, the historic education reform Better Schools program which will give more individual attention to every student and the HECS support program, ensuring no student is disadvantaged by a lack of family wealth.Labor, unlike the Liberals, have committed to investing in public transport infrastructure, not just more roads to encourage more cars, more traffic and more pollution. Labor is committed to responsible action on climate change that is both economically and environmentally viable. I am also proud to say that it truly is time for marriage equality in Australia, and like Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, I support marriage equality and would vote for it on the floor of Parliament. With Tony Abbott continuing to opposing it, only a Labor Government would see marriage equality legislated.
Labor is, in my view, the party that will best take Australia forward. The Liberals are committed to massive spending cuts simply to achieve a symbolic future undated surplus. Anyone who understands basic economics though will tell you that saving money at risk to essential services & infrastructure isn’t smart – it’s wasting an opportunity to invest in a better and more productive nation. Education, health services, broadband – they’re all clearly smart investments.
But of particular interest to me as a Jew is Tony Abbott’s pledge to repeal 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act. This would make it lawful to offend, intimidate or harass a person based on their religious, cultural or ethnic background. Without this law, Holocaust denier Fredrick Toben may not have been convicted. Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus, who signed the London Declaration against anti-Semitism with many of his Labor colleagues, has committed to leaving this section intact and taking a hard-line on hate speech. Our communal leadership are rightly concerned by proposals to repeal this section and the effect this could have in permitting anti-Semitic hate speech and Holocaust denial in Australia.
I understand that many of my friends have lost faith in all politics. I implore all students, Jewish or not, to look to what kind of nation we will inherit. Don’t be fooled by the doomsayers – Australia is in a great place today after 6 years of Labor in power, and it can only get better if we keep working to improve it. That’s why I am supporting Labor & Kevin Rudd, and I hope you do too.
Daniel Guttmann is a MonJSS (AUJS at Monash Clayton) General Executive Member, a member of the Australian Labor Party and the party’s official endorsed candidate for the Victorian seat of Goldstein in this weekend’s federal election.
Why I'm voting Green
By Emma Rapaport
With the Federal Election fast approaching, it seems like everywhere you go there’s an election debate. While I have been a swing voter over time, this cycle of inter-party squabbles, and ‘race to the bottom’ to demonise asylum seekers has pushed my vote towards the Greens. In the Sydney Jewish, voting Greens is a bit controversial. When someone suggests the Greens are a viable alternative to the major parties, accusations of the party’s anti-Semitic rhetoric and hostility towards Israel are sent flying, with no consideration given to the rest of the forward thinking, socially conscious Greens policies. These pre-conceived notions are rarely scrutinised within our community, and the truth is quite different.
The Greens’ official stance on Israel from their website shows they favour a two-state solution, and offer “support [for] the legitimate rights and aspirations of the Israeli people to live in peace and security in their own independent, sovereign state.” Their policy, while recognising the civilian violence experienced in the territories, extends its support, respect and recognition to both sides in the conflict. It is important to note that much of the anti-Israel rhetoric quoted by leaders in our community relies heavily upon statements made by lower level state based Greens members, who have little influence on Federal foreign policy. As we have witnessed countless times, every party has members who embarrass their party by breaking ranks from official policy. However, these members become largely discredited by their own parties, and such comments are never allowed speak for the party as a whole. When we judge the Greens’ stance on Israel, we should base our conclusions on party policy rather than jumping at the most extreme views held within the party.
As none of us are single-issue voters, it is important to look to other areas of Greens policy to help inform our ballot. This does not mean we should abandon our stance towards Israel, but we can allow our Jewish identities to inform other areas of policy in this election.
Firstly, the policies advanced by the two major parties on the right to seek asylum, demonising those fleeing from conflict areas, speaks directly to my moral and Jewish conscious. These abhorrent policies, which have been categorised by the UN as "cruel, inhuman and degrading, inflicting serious psychological harm”, are neither a just nor credible response to people seeking protection in Australia. The Rudd government’s inhumane new policy sets up a terrifying precedence for the Australian government to freely abdicate its responsibilities as a signatory to the UN Refugee Convention, by dishing off responsibility to our poorest neighbouring states.
As a community I believe such issues should be viewed through the lens of our own experiences as refugees, and viewed in the light of how prosperous our community has become in the years following the resettling of Jewish people on Australian shores. The Greens party appears to be the only compassionate voice in this debate, asking not how we can stop the boats, but how we can best establish a safe, official and humane way for those who have already experienced intimidation, fear and danger, to safely seek asylum.
What I think will surprise most of us is that unlike the two major parties, the Greens have taken this election to present policy that speaks to younger voters. While many of my peers understandably shut off during the election period, this election has given us something to talk about regarding proposed cuts to university funding, social and environmental issues. The Greens have proposed initiatives including the raising of Youth Allowance payments by $50 a week, seeking to lift young students out of the poverty cycle, defending penalty rates to ensure better rights and working conditions for weekend and casual workers, and standing up for tertiary education by reversing Labor’s student scholarship cuts, boost finding for universities, and restore TAFE as a key vocational training institute. Compare this to the Liberal policy, which calls for a 25% increase to university HECS fees, raising the price of a medical degree to over $73,000. The Greens have also expressed unwavering support for marriage equity, and have never questioned the impact of global warming on the Australian environment.
A vote for the Greens should not be viewed as an abandonment of Jewish values. While it is evident that the Greens will not form a majority government, with the prospect of a large Liberal majority drawing ever closer, it is important that minor parties are represented in the Senate to ensure that appropriate checks and balances are maintained. In the past term, the Greens have been crucial in ensuring many great policies including; an additional $30 a week for pensioners, fifty million for public health, protection of youth allowance payments for gap year students, and Medicare funding for dental treatments. As part of a Jewish moral imperative we should seek to love thy neighbours as thyself, and not stand by as our most vulnerable citizens suffer. A vote for the Greens means thrusting momentum behind a party who speaks for a forward thinking, compassionate and healthy Australia.
Emma Rapaport is the AUJS Campus President at UTS (University of Technology Sydney) and a Greens voter