Liberal pollies tour Bagel Belt

27 May Liberal pollies tour Bagel Belt

TWO Liberal candidates standing for local electorates in the July 2 Federal Election have been joined by rookie Victorian Senator James Paterson and Caulfield MP David Southwick for a meet-and-greet tour of the Jewish community.

The federal trio, and their host Southwick, emphasised their commitment to the Jewish community’s security needs.

The two Liberals – Tim Wilson, the former Australian Human Rights Commissioner, who is contesting Goldstein following the retirement of long-time Liberal incumbent Andrew Robb, Australia’s Trade and Investment Minister; and Owen Guest, who is challenging Michael Danby in Melbourne Ports – pressed the flesh in the Bagel Belt on May 18.

Their circuit took in the Beth Weizmann Community Centre and the Lamm Jewish Library, where they were briefed by Jewish Community Council of Victoria president Jennifer Huppert, Zionism Victoria executive director Jane Rapke and vice-president Jeff Morrison, and Community Security Group coordinator Ricky Pearl, among others.

The tour culminated in a visit to Central Shule, where Rabbi Yitzhok Riesenberg explained the significance of synagogue icons such as the Torah scrolls, the Ner Tamid (eternal light) and the bimah. The shul, whose location almost straddles the boundary between Goldstein and Melbourne Ports, was an apt focal point for the visitors, said Southwick.

Speaking to The AJN, Wilson said he was impressed with Jewish organisations’ endeavours to work together “not just for the Jewish community but for the community at large”.

Guest said his interest in history has given him a fascination for Torah scrolls, and how they have been written. Paterson – the Liberals’ youngest ever senator, who called for the relocation of Australia’s embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem in his maiden speech to Parliament – told The AJN: “There isn’t a problem in the world that there isn’t a Jewish
community organisation trying to solve. It’s so impressive and so diverse.”

Asked about funding for communal security, the politicians voiced their appreciation for Jewish security concerns. Additional funding for security “is something I’d be very keen to see happening”, said Wilson. “It is important to the community, and nobody should face an environment where they don’t feel totally secure,” he said. Describing security as “a primary concern”, he added, “That has not been lost on any of us.”

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