Church groups stack party branch forcing new vote on preselection

May 20, 2016 by J-Wire Staff
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Perth businessman Simon Ehrenfeld will face a ballot for the second time this weekend in a bid to win preselection for the safe State Liberal seat of Hillarys in Perth.

Ehrenfeld had already won preselection by 26-9 but the decision was overturned when religion appeared to creep into the contest. Ironically Ehrenfeld is up against Upper House MP Peter Katsambanis for preselection.

Simon Ehrenfeld

Simon Ehrenfeld

Katsambanis is well-know for his stand against antisemitism and his support for Israel. He told J-Wire: “As I am in election mode at the moment, I am unable to comment but my position in supporting Israel and the Jewish community in unquestionable.”

But ABC News has reported that current sitting member Rob Johnson told Parliament that the decision not to endorse Ehrenfeld was “a blatant misuse of power”. He added according to ABC News: “The hardline so-called Christian Right or the religious cult as I call them vetoed his preselection. They fed off the backs of those bigots who just wanted to stop Mr Ehrenfeld who is Jewish obviously.” He made it clear that he believed that opposing Ehrenfeld’s candidacy was antisemitism. Johnson has decided to quit the seat but may stand as an Independent.

Perth’s Rabbi Dovid Freilich told J-Wire: “Simon was the president of the Young Liberals but somehow religion has crept into it. I wished him mazeltov in Shul on his preselection only to learn it had been overturned seemingly by a right-wing Christian groups.”

Rabbi Freilich has sent a letter to Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and to Colin Barnett, the Premier of Western Australia Colin Barnett expressing his view that religion has nothing to do with standing for parliament. He wrote: “It is not necessary that there be an open dislike of Jewish people. Rather the said factional forces need simply prefer other Christian candidates every time so that a non-Christian candidate is simply never endorsed.”

He later wrote a letter to the editor of the West Australian stating: “In reference to the article in May 20 edition of The West Australian, entitled “Top rabbi wants explanation why Jew had candidacy overturned.”  I want to make the following comments. This article was merely to point out that any candidate for a political position should not be judged by what religion he or she happens to follow.  It was in no way to indicate that any candidate standing against Mr Ehrenfeld for the state seat of Hillarys is anti-Jewish just because Mr Ehrenfeld happens to be a respected member of the Jewish community.  On the contrary, the other candidate, Mr Peter Katsambanis, who is standing against Mr Ehrenfeld for Liberal Party preselection for the seat of Hillarys, is a great friend and supporter of the Jewish people. He has  my complete confidence, as does Mr Ehrenfeld.   As I pointed out in the article, it is the integrity of the candidates  and their dedication  to the constituency of Hillarys, which is paramount. I believe  both these candidates possess this. A vote for Peter Katsambanis should in no way be construed as being soft on antisemitism, as Peter has always been a vehement critic of any anti-Semitic behaviour.

May the best candidate win – religion has no part to play in this!”

Simon Ehrenfeld told J-Wire he could make no comment as he is a standing candidate for preselection.


3 Responses to “Church groups stack party branch forcing new vote on preselection”
  1. Lindsay Jane Thorpe says:

    What church or churches do these people belong to? Are they an organised group? If so, what is the name of the group?

    Also, if the sitting member Rob Johnson describes these people as antisemitic, then maybe he is correct. As the sitting member, he should know the local politics of this geographical area reasonably well.

  2. Lynne Newington says:

    He wouldn’t be lost if he chose to stand as an Independant with his ethics….anyone recall Andrew Wilkie? The whistleblower later applauded for his stand against Australia’s involvement in invasion of Iraq, on the say so of Bush Jnr claiming “G-d told me”…..

  3. Erica Edelman says:

    The mere fact that “anti-semitism” has been brought
    Up and into the equation is cause for concern in itself.
    Defensive explanation, offensive remarks – is antisemitism
    The platform here? Sounds like dirty politics again – ho hum.
    Simon Ehrenfeld – you show them what polity REALLY looks like !

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