Election comment from the PM’s office
As Jewish voters across Australia ponder the ramifications of an election to be held on Yom Kippur, J-Wire has received a comment from one of Julia Gillard’s senior advisors as the debate about the date
The senior advisor to the Prime Minister said: “Australia has a terrifically flexible and resilient and reliable voting system. The Australian Electoral Commission has well established procedures, including pre-poll and postal voting, to ensure all voters can vote in federal elections.
Observant members of the Jewish community have long utilised them, given that all federal elections are on Saturdays.
Most importantly, voters now have 7 months notice – not just five weeks. Jewish voters – all voters – have ample time and ability to plan for their voting, enabling them to observe the religious holiday with no impairment in fulfilling their civic obligations. The long lead time of the election announcement minimizes the inconvenience and was a key factor in balancing all the considerations involved and making the date work.”
Dr Colin Rubenstein, the executive director of The Australia/Israel and Jewish Affairs Council commented: “The scheduling of the Federal Election on Yom Kippur is of course somewhat disappointing, especially for those members of our community-be they politicians, political party members, campaign workers, canvassers, scrutineers or voters-who won’t be able to engage on election day as they normally would. However, as always, everyone will have the option provided by pre polling and postal voting to exercise their democratic right and obviously many more community members can be expected to avail themselves of that opportunity. AIJAC has also received messages from Australians from many different religious and cultural backgrounds saying that it is regrettable that this date was chosen.”
Liberal member for Kooyong Josh Frydenberg spoke on ABC radio this morning with Rafael Epstein.
Rafael Epstein: And just let me ask you about the date. You did tweet that this disenfranchises many Jewish Australians and is incredibly sloppy work. Now for clarity, both Josh and I are Jewish and 14 September is Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the Jewish year. You cannot be serious with that tweet.
Josh Frydenberg: This isn’t about postal votes and pre-polling, of course people can do that and really religious Jewish people would be doing that anyway because elections are held on the Sabbath. But Yom Kippur is the holiest day in the calendar and for thousands of Jewish Australians who may want to campaign on a booth, dare I say it, there is a couple of Labor MPs who are Jewish and obviously myself and there are questions they have to answer as to whether we will participate on the actual day. So I think a number of people will find themselves unable to participate.
Rafael Epstein: Malcolm Turnbull himself has lots of Jews in his seat and he said he was tweeting he can’t believe anyone would make a point of that.
Josh Frydenberg: And Malcolm has made his point very clear here. Look I don’t think the Prime Minister purposely put it on Yom Kippur. What I think happened is that she did not know the significance of that day and has therefore gone ahead with the date. It’s sloppy. It’s not anger, its more I feel disappointed.
Rafael Epstein: But we got to hear David Speers try to pronounce Yom Kippur, which is always a pleasure.
Josh Frydenberg: But isn’t there a funny story here Raff that in 1966 when Collingwood and St Kilda played the grand final it fell on Yom Kippur and I think it was the centre-halfback for St Kilda Ian Synman was Jewish and there was a great debate as to whether he should play in the grand final. He decided to play…
David Feeney: So are we going to see the same level of speculation as to whether you can hand out election flyers?
Rafael Epstein: He’s just a backbencher David, not a centre halfback.
This is the reason St Kilda has never won a grand final because most Jews go for St Kilda, they didn’t go to synagogue, they went to watch the grand final and the curse is St Kilda will never win.
Josh Frydenberg: Hang on, I go for Carlton
Rafael Epstein: Well that’s the other Jewish team.
Josh Frydenberg said: “I think this will be of concern to a number of Jewish Australians. I am disappointed. I think we should respect the high holy days of all religions”.