NSW Labor calls on the NSW government to provide $2m for Jewish security

April 1, 2019 by J-Wire Newsdesk
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NSW Labor has this week demanded the Premier and the Counter-Terrorism Minister provide a public assurance and a timetable on its promise to provide $2 million in security funding for the NSW Jewish community.

Walt Secord, Guy Zangari, Dr Marjorie O’Neill, NSWJBD president Lesli Berger and CEO Vic Alhadeff

It was one of the first acts by NSW Labor after the State election.

During the election campaign, Labor pledged to provide $2 million to improve Jewish communal security and afterwards, the conservatives matched the pledge.

On February 8, Labor frontbencher and deputy chair of the NSW Parliamentary Friends of Israel Walt Secord; Shadow Police Minister Guy Zangari; and Coogee Labor candidate (and now MP) Dr Marjorie O’Neill officially met with the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies.

Afterwards, on March 22, then-Environment Minister and Vaucluse MP Ms Gabrielle Upton and Mr Bruce Notley-Smith, the former MP for Coogee matched the promise.

NSW Labor is seeking the assurances after the defeat of Mr Notley-Smith and the demotion of Ms Upton to parliamentary secretary – and in light of the Premier’s February 6 comments in Orange in the State’s Central West where she stated that promises were contingent on the election of a Coalition MP.

In joint separate letters dated April 1, Mr Secord, Dr O’Neill and Mr Zangari wrote to both the Premier Gladys Berejiklian and the Counter-Terrorism Minister Anthony Roberts to seek formal answers – and a timetable for the provision of the $2 million.

In the letter to the Premier and Anthony Roberts the Labor trio wrote: “We seek a timetable for the provision of the $2million in funds and an assurance that the funds will be in the forthcoming State budget. Round 40 places of worship, schools, aged care facilities and other sites would benefit from the grant.”

Mr Roberts was announced yesterday (March 31) as the new incoming Counter Terrorism Minister in the re-elected Berejiklian Government.

“There is now considerable concern that the Berejiklian Government will walk away from the important security pledge as a direct result of Mr Notley-Smith’s defeat,” Mr Secord said.

“In June, we want to see the $2 million figure in the official budget papers – so that work can begin shortly afterwards.”

Around 40 places of worship, schools, aged care facilities and other sites would benefit from the grant.

“Jewish communal security is above partisan politics and it is one of the most important issues facing the Jewish community,” Mr Secord said.

A spokesperson for the NSW Government told J-Wire: “The NSW Liberals & Nationals Government will deliver on all of its promises, including the $2 million commitment to improve security for the Jewish community.

Community safety is the highest priority of the NSW Liberals & Nationals Government.”

In 2018, the NSW Liberals & Nationals Government introduced new laws to prohibit the threat or incitement of violence against any person on the grounds of race and religious affiliation. The Jewish community were strong advocates for this reform.

NSW Jewish Board of Deputies President Lesli Berger told J-Wire: “We have every confidence that the government will honour its commitment to provide the $2m. It understands the importance of this funding and it understands the importance of ensuring the community’s security needs are met.”

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