The 2019 election and the Jewish community

Bill Shorten (left) and Scott Morrison. Photo: AAP Image/Mick Tsikas

AS the sun goes down on Saturday night, Shabbat goes out and the numbers go up, what will the news be and how will it affect the Jewish community? Based on national opinion polling, the most likely outcome will be a change of government, with Labor returning to power after almost six years.

Some pundits are predicting the Coalition – which actually has to gain seats from its minority status in the present Parliament – may hang on by a thread. PM Scott Morrison is still the preferred leader over the ALP’s Bill Shorten. But Victoria may prove too hard for Liberals to woo after the switch from Malcolm Turnbull.

The Senate will be an interesting proposition, with minor parties like Clive Palmer’s United Australia Party and Pauline Hanson’s One Nation possibly gaining leverage.

In Wentworth, the electorate with the nation’s highest Jewish population, will it be groundhog day? Voters face a reboot of the October 2018 by-election for Turnbull’s old seat, when the Jewish community was tantalised by Morrison’s proposition of an Australian embassy in Jerusalem, but Jewish independent Kerryn Phelps still beat Liberal candidate Dave Sharma, a former Australian envoy to Israel. Who will win as they face each other seven months on?

And in Macnamara, formerly Melbourne Ports, the seat with the second-highest Jewish population in Australia, the first contest without veteran Labor MP Michael Danby will be a cliffhanger, as it was for Danby in 2016. The smart money is on Labor’s Josh Burns scraping home on Greens preferences. 

But some foresee a situation in which the Greens’ Steph Hodgins-May snares the seat. Given the Greens’ perceived hostility to Israel, Liberal candidate Kate Ashmor has preferenced her eighth of the nine candidates while Burns has come under fire for preferencing her fifth.

Whether one is voting for the umpteenth time or the very first, it is important to be aware of the pressing issues, of the various party policies and what their plans are for the future of Australia.

Perhaps just as importantly, particularly in the House of Representatives, electors don’t just vote for a party.

We vote for a person who will directly engage with our local Jewish community. A person who will represent our community, who will fight on our behalf – whether it be against antisemitism, whether it be for security funding, whether it be for infrastructure funding or a number of other important issues.

In this special “Big Issue” of The AJN we tackle the election issues that affect our community.

We talk to the people competing for the right to represent and fight for us. 

We hear from the Prime Minister and Opposition Leader about their plans for the nation.

Plus we hear in-depth from two of Australia’s most high-profile Jewish politicians, Josh Frydenberg and Mark Dreyfus.

Of course, make sure to check out next week’s AJN for full coverage of the election results.

PETER KOHN & GARETH NARUNSKY