Wentworth final questions: Licia Heath

October 18, 2018 by J-Wire Newsdesk
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In the interests of ensuring that our community is properly informed and engaged in the political process The Executive Council of Australian Jewry asked the four candidates currently polling at over 10% of the primary vote (as per the Reachtell poll published on 17 September), to state their positions on matters of special concern to Jewish Australians. 

Wentworth final questions: Licia Heath

Security funding

We have seen deadly terror attacks overseas in which Jewish communities were specifically targeted. Australian government agencies including the Australian Federal Police and ASIO have assessed that the Jewish community remains particularly vulnerable to an attack in Australia.

In light of this, the government currently provides direct assistance in meeting the security costs for Jewish schools. Recently this assistance was extended to a small number of other Jewish communal institutions including some synagogues, museums and community centres.  However,

Licia Heath

the vast majority of non-school Jewish institutions which have applied for security funding assistance missed out.

 

  1.     Do you support increasing the level of security funding assistance from the Federal government to at-risk Jewish communal institutions?

 

Any security funding for at-risk potential civilian targets of terrorism or violence of any kind should be based on the assessed risk. Where the Australian security services (including the AFP and ASIO) have justified reason to believe there is a heightened risk to a specific location or series of locations then appropriate funding should be provided to protect the community. My understanding from friends in the Jewish community is that current levels of funding have deterred attacks in Wentworth so my inclination would be to maintain current funding levels. Security services should be investigating the source of potential threats and eliminating these – quality intelligence is key to this.

 

 

Education

 

  1.     Are you in favour of increasing, decreasing or maintaining at current levels Commonwealth funding for private schools?

 

I am well and truly on record for choice in education and specifically, support of needs-based funding which is fair and equitable for public schools and private / independent schools.  It is imperative that we resolve the funding fight that has been going on for years and cease trying to fix the problem by throwing money at one school sector group at the expense of another. I’ve met with David Gonski previously and no one would be more disappointed than him at the recent announcements by the Prime Minister to refund Private schools. The original Gonski plan is a model that should be supported and executed upon.  Public schools are in crisis in many areas and the government should be focussed on reducing maintenance backlogs and refinancing the public school system. I am in favour of decreasing Commonwealth funding from current levels for private schools.

 

 

Foreign Policy

 

Recognising a Palestinian State

 

  1.     Do you support formally recognising a State of Palestine, other than as an outcome of a negotiated agreement between Israel and the Palestinians?  If the answer is other than ‘No’, please specify the circumstances in which you would encourage your party to recognise such a State.

 

No.

 

The establishment and recognition of a Palestinian state should be the aim of all parties in the middle east and the international community.  A unilateral declaration without an agreement that includes Israel is not going to enable a peaceful outcome so I do not support it.

 

Jerusalem

 

  1.     Do you believe that Australia should recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and that the Australian embassy should be relocated from Tel Aviv to the Israeli government precinct in West Jerusalem?

 

I fully support the right of Israel to name its own capital and this does not require the support or recognition of Australia or the international community.  Where Israel is seeking moral support for Jerusalem being their capital, this should form part of a negotiation process that fosters peace in the region. I do not support the relocation of the Australian embassy at this time, but I do support the relocation as part of wide-ranging international negotiations in the future.

 

United Nations

 

The Executive Director of UN Watch, Hillel Neuer has charged that much of the UN “has been subverted by a relentless propaganda war against the Jewish state”.

 

  1.     Do you agree? If so, what should Australia do to challenge this injustice?

 

There is no doubt that both racism and anti-semitism exists within some elements of various countries delegations to the UN. I understand that the UN has made multiple condemnations against Israel which is regrettable and been more recently addressed by Nikki Haley in the UN General Assembly. But I’m retiscent to agree with the statement that “much of the UN has been subverted by a relentless propaganda war against the Jewish state”. I’m a supporter of ensuring the integrity and remit of the UN is of high quality and I’m concerned that isn’t the case on a number of matters currently. However, tackling racism and anti-semitism in whatever form it takes, including at the UN, should be a primary focus – these forces are in opposition to the reason that the UN was established.

 

 

Iran

 

America’s annual terrorism report (last published in July 2017) describes Iran as “the foremost state sponsor of terrorism”.

 

  1.     Do you agree with this assessment?

 

I believe that Iran has historically supported terrorist organisations and continues to do so. Whether it is “the foremost” is a matter of debate sadly as there are other countries that sponsor terrorism on anywhere from a small to extremely large scale, including North Korea, Syria, Saudi Arabia and Russia amongst others. I understand that Iran has been the most vocal in its views against Israel.

 

Former Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Foreign Minister Julie Bishop expressed “regret” following the announcement by the US that it would withdraw from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) known as the “Iran deal”.

 

  1.     Do you support the JCPOA?

 

The ultimate aim of the JCPOA is to reduce the threat of nuclear war and I fully support this aim.  The best way to ensure non-proliferation outcomes is through a comprehensive agreement with verification.  In return for these verified actions and outcomes, sanctions on Iran should be reduced and removed. This is the only possible way that a multi-lateral deal can be effective in reducing the nuclear threat.

 

In its execution, the JCPOA needs to be considered and reviewed to ensure it remains a workable solution to the existing threat and where appropriate, the implementation approach should be modified to ensure it is effective.

 

The effectiveness of the JCPOA is completely undermined by the United States withdrawal and re-establishment of sanctions so this can no longer be considered a viable potential pathway to a peaceful outcome.  The United States has not proposed an alternate pathway, other than expecting Iran to unilaterally act which is also not a viable possibility. I consider that the United States withdrawal increases the instability in the region and risk of military action in the future.

 

I would support the JCPOA being re-negotiated to gain the support of the United States, as without this support, the deal appears unsustainable.

 

Antisemitism

 

The International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (of which Australia is a Liaison Country) has adopted a working definition of antisemitism which recognises that antisemitism has the capacity to mutate and take on new forms in order to exploit or prosecute the contemporary conflict between Israel and the Palestinians. The working definition recognises that:

 

“Contemporary examples of antisemitism in public life, the media, schools, the workplace, and in the religious sphere could, taking into account the overall context, include:

 

  •      Accusing the Jews as a people, or Israel as a state, of inventing or exaggerating the Holocaust.

 

  •      Accusing Jewish citizens of being more loyal to Israel, or to the alleged priorities of Jews worldwide, than to the interests of their own nations.

 

  •      Denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, e.g., by claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavour.

 

  •      Applying double standards by requiring of it a behaviour not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation.

 

  •      Using the symbols and images associated with classic antisemitism (e.g., claims of Jews killing Jesus or blood libel) to characterize Israel or Israelis.

 

  •      Drawing comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis.

 

  •      Holding Jews collectively responsible for actions of the state of Israel.”

 

 

  1.     Do you accept the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA)-endorsed definition of antisemitism?

 

Yes.

 

 

Religious Freedom

 

 

The same-sex marriage survey last year has led to claims that religious freedom is not adequately protected in Australia, and that religious institutions and organisations should have enhanced rights to discriminate in favour of members of their own faith, or to promote their own beliefs.

 

 

  1.     Do you agree?

 

The same-sex marriage debate was about removing the state-supported discrimination that was enshrined in law (within the marriage act).  This had no impact on the rights of religious institutions to continue their faith-based practices in the existing manner including practice or promotion of their beliefs.

 

The Australian community, including the Wentworth community, strongly voiced its support of removing discrimination in Australian law and in civil practice.

 

To legislate in a manner that establishes, in law, a right to discriminate against a segment of the Australian community is against the majority of strongly held community sentiment and should not be supported.

 

Allowing a religious, or religiously-affiliated institution to discriminate against one minority group would open the door to other forms of discrimination that are against community values – such as religious discrimination.

 

If religious schools or institutions practice discrimination outside of the law, and outside of community standards, then they forfeit the right

Comments

One Response to “Wentworth final questions: Licia Heath”
  1. Adrian Jackson says:

    A good candidate but Dr Phelps has won convincingly.

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