11 Aug Labor MP takes out full-page ad to reassure Jewish voters
Rachel Baxendale — The Australian — 11 August, 2017
Victorian Labor MP Michael Danby has sought to reassure the Jewish community his divided party still supports Israel by taking out a full-page, taxpayer-funded colour advertisement in the Australian Jewish News.
The advertisement was published yesterday after the NSW branch of the Labor Party passed a motion last month urging “unconditional” recognition of Palestine by the next federal ALP government.
The move was seen as a win by pro-Palestine former NSW premier Bob Carr, but Jewish leaders have downplayed the significance of the change to Labor’s longstanding position, highlighting the inclusion of a paragraph saying the NSW ALP “supports the recognition and right of Israel and Palestine to exist within secure and recognised borders”.
The Australian can reveal that the advertisement follows a meeting between Bill Shorten and the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies in the lead-up to last month’s conference during which he sought to reassure them that the Labor Party still supported Israel.
Mr Danby’s advertisement features quotes from him, the Opposition Leader, foreign affairs spokeswoman Penny Wong, education spokeswoman Tanya Plibersek, legal affairs spokesman Mark Dreyfus and Labor MP Mike Kelly.
The quotes appear under a banner headline: “Despite what some may say, this is what federal Labor really has to say about Israel. Labor stands with Israel.”
Senator Wong is quoted as saying: “Labor supports an enduring and just two-state solution to the Israeli Palestinian conflict, based on the right of Israel to live in peace within secure borders.”
Mr Shorten is quoted as saying: “(There are) legitimate aspirations of Palestinians to have their own state and I do support that, but also the legitimate aspirations of people of Israel to live in secure borders.”
The Australian Jewish News charges $3090 for a full-page ad, with a discount for advertising in both the Sydney and Melbourne editions, as Mr Danby did, meaning his spend would have been up to $6000, half of which paid for advertising to an audience hundreds of kilometres from his electorate of Melbourne Ports.
Victorian Liberal senator James Paterson said Mr Danby, who is Jewish, was entitled to spend his office advertising budget as he saw fit “but no $6000 ad can change the fact that every time the Labor Party has a conference, Labor members vote to move Labor policy further and further away from Israel”.
Neither Mr Danby nor Mr Shorten responded to a request for comment.
Senator Wong said she had not been consulted about having her image and words used in the advertisement “nor would I expect to be. My words are longstanding Labor policy,” she said.
This article originally appeared in The Australian.