35th anniversary of Mace donation to NSW parliament

November 2, 2009 by J-Wire Staff
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An unusual event was held in the grounds of NSW Parliament House – a celebration of the 35th anniversary of the Jewish donation of the Mace to the NSW Legislative Assembly.

The magnificent Mace, comprising gold and gemstones, was presented to the NSW Parliament by the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies on October 15, 1974 to celebrate the sesquicentenary (150th anniversary) of the establishment of parliament in Australia.

As the initiative to donate the mace came from Sir Asher Joel, a member of the Upper House and a prominent member of the Jewish community, the function was attended by four generations of his family – his wife, Lady Sybil Joel; son Dr Michael Joel; grand-daughter Natasha Deutsch; and great-grandson Oscar Asher Deutsch.

Also in attendance were Opposition Leader Barry O’Farrell, Nationals Leader Andrew Stoner, former Speaker John Aquilina and numerous MPs and leaders of the Jewish community.

Speaker of the House Richard Torbay welcomed guests, and Board of Deputies President Robin Margo S.C. responded, acknowledging that “New South Wales and Australia have given asylum and safe refuge to many Jews fleeing persecution and discrimination.

“People who have learned what it means to live under circumstances of political oppression, social and religious discrimination and the fear of violence feel the deepest appreciation for the privilege of living in a society like ours that respects the rule of law and that strives, however imperfectly from time to time, to uphold values of fairness, equality, non-discrimination and respect for human rights,” said Margo.

“We find comfort and pride in the fact that members of our community have used that privilege to contribute in many ways, and together with our fellow citizens of many different faiths and cultures, to the building of New South Wales and Australia.

“That is what the Mace symbolises for us: a parliamentary democracy of free citizens, upholding values that men and women who came before us fought and died for; and the opportunity, indeed duty, to participate fully in the life of our State and country.”

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