$2 million security pledge

STATE Labor has pledged $2 million for Jewish communal security should it win the NSW election, it was announced this week.

The funding was committed during a meeting with Jewish communal representatives on Tuesday evening, attended by deputy Labor leader in the Legislative Council Walt Secord, representing opposition leader Michael Daley, shadow police minister Guy Zangari and Labor’s Coogee candidate, Marjorie O’Neill.

Around 40 places of worship, schools, aged care facilities and other sites would benefit from the grant.

It follows a federal government pledge last October to contribute $2.2 million to communal security, announced as part of the national Safer Communities Fund scheme.

The $4 million in total would allow the community to proceed with a much-needed CCTV upgrade at communal sites in Sydney’s eastern suburbs, north shore, the inner west, Parramatta, the St George area and the Hunter.

While Jewish communal sites are among the most at-risk in Australia, much of the community’s security infrastructure has not been upgraded in more than 20 years.

Secord acknowledged that the Jewish community faced “significant security threats”.

“NSW Labor has listened and a Daley Labor Government will provide the necessary funding to protect the Jewish community,” he said.

O’Neill said the funding was especially important to ensure that “all kids have access to a safe environment and can be safe at school”.

“When I speak to members of the Jewish community, they tell me about their concerns about the need to protect places of worship and children at Jewish schools,” she said.

Zangari took aim at the Berejiklian government, saying the community’s concerns has fallen “on deaf ears”.

“We also understand the Jewish community has approached the office of the NSW Premier and the Minister for Counter Terrorism for matching funding, but they have been ignored,” he said.

NSW Council for Jewish Community Security chairman Peter Wise welcomed the funding promise.

“Over the years the NSW Jewish community has worked hard to improve its security infrastructure. This commitment from the NSW Labor Party comes at an opportune moment as the need for additional funding has been urgent for some time,” he said.

NSW Jewish Board of Deputies president Lesli Berger said the community was “extremely grateful” to the NSW Labor Party for the commitment.

“All Australians should be able to go about their business in safety and security, and unfortunately there are a handful among us who threaten the well-being of Jewish Australians. We have seen a number of appalling examples of this in recent days,” he said.

“These funds will be invaluable in protecting the NSW Jewish community from those who would do it harm, and we thank the NSW Labor Party for understanding this basic need and promising to deliver these long sought-after funds.”

The funding pledge comes after a number of high-profile antisemitic incidents in Melbourne, including schoolchildren being harassed on a bus and a rabbi being told, “You should have died in Auschwitz.”

GARETH NARUNSKY