Postal voting ahead

January 30, 2013 by Henry Benjamin
Read on for article

The Australian Federal election date was announced by Prime Minister Julia Gillard today. September 14. Yom Kippur.

Michael Danby

Michael Danby

The one day a year on which most Jews irrespective of their religiosity observe will send members of the Australian Jewish community to their local mailboxes instead of the polling booths.

It is a day in Israel when children take to the motorways on their bikes as there is not a car to be seen other than one on medical duty. It is a day which has seen top sportsmen have to deal with their management in excusing themselves from competing and for entertainers from performing.

And for Australian sitting member of Parliament it will necessitate special planning.

The Ayalon in Tel Aviv on Yom Kippur    photo: Agencies

The Ayalon in Tel Aviv on Yom Kippur photo: Agencies

Labor MP Michael Danby told J-Wire: “Today the Prime Minister announced that the election will be held on September 14. This coincides with the Jewish Day of Atonement Yom Kippur. As a matter of personal conscience I will be unable to participate on election day. It is my practice, with my wife Amanda, to observe Yom Kippur (the Jewish Day of Atonement).

I hope my constituents will respect my consistency in this matter just as I try to be consistent in others.

After hearing from the Prime Minister, following her National Press Club address, I am negotiating with the Special Minister of State Gary Gray to ensure arrangements for the fullest participation of the (120,000) Australian Jewish Community in our Australian democratic process.

This will mean extra attention to postal voting and particularly pre-polling in Melbourne Ports and other Victorian seats like Goldstein, Higgins and Kooyong as well as Wentworth and Kingsford Smith in New South Wales and Perth in Western Australia. Many of these electorates already have high levels of postal voting and pre-polling due to shift and emergency workers, travellers and Orthodox Jews being unable to vote during the day on Saturday.”

President of The Executive Council of Australian Jewry Dr Danny Lamm said: “I think it’s unfortunate that the election was called on Yom Kippur.

Indeed I’m surprised.

It certainly creates a problem for those  Jewish supporters of parties and candidates who would have wished to be active at polling booths on election day and who will feel conflicted and unable to do so because of the solemnity of Yom Kippur.

Further it may affect Jewish candidates who will be unable to campaign on election day as Michael Danby has already advised with regard to himself as he will be like most of Jewry in synagogue . However for voters pre-voting and postal vote alternatives are available ensuring that no one will be denied their vote.”

Watch this space for further community comments.


19 Responses to “Postal voting ahead”
  1. Liat Nagar says:

    There’s no need for people in the Community to face fines, the postal voting system is efficient and all one has to do is vote earlier than September 14. For many Jewish people who travel and might even be out of the country on election day, they exercise their voting rights from overseas if they want to do so – it’s been ever thus.

    It’s unfortunate that Jewish politicians won’t be able to be present at Polling booths, however that won’t change the voters’ intent. There would be very few people, if any, who hadn’t made up their minds who to vote for by the day of the election

    Julia Gillard’s choice of date for this election simply wouldn’t have taken Yom Kippur into account due to ignorance of the fact, I would think. Maybe not good, but yes we are a minority group and will suffer from that situation from time to time. That’s the reality.

  2. Leon says:

    Are we too impressed by our own importance. We constitute .05% of the population and we expect that the Election not be held on Yom Kippur. Get real and as a Community understand that we are an absolute minority. Stop moaning.

    • Shirlee says:

      That may be so Leon, but as a Community we contribute more than the average

    • Phillip says:

      Since when do mere numbers constitute a bais for a government taking action to in effect, disable Jewish people who want to from participating in the election on Election day, particularly when there are many more suitable days to chose from.
      I would like to know if the Prine Minister was aware that the date she chose was Yom Kippur and if she was, did she go ahead because it only affected .05% of the population?

  3. Richard says:

    I am a member of the Church of England and therefore a Christian. Israel and the Jewish community here in Australia have my support in their struggle for peaceful existence. I consider the choice of election date to be cynical and outrageous. Australia is my adopted country and as an Australian citizen I have to admit to being ashamed of our current government and Prime Minister. I urge the Jewish community to protest and to ensure that they exercise their right to vote and let the government know exactly how you feel. The writing went up on the wall with the abstention in the UN. The first step has to be a cast iron assurance that all of our Jewish community, without exception, if entitled to vote, are allowed to vote well before election day or be allowed a postal vote. I for one will support petitions, email campaigns or any other legal action to ensure that the right thing is done.

  4. John says:

    It is indeed most surprising that the Prime Minister chose Yom Kippur as the election date.

    As Dr Lamm says it is indeed unfortunate.

    The message in rhe date that the Prime Minister chose will in due course become the day that she Julia Gillard atones for her loss as her Day of Atonement

  5. Otto Waldmann says:

    You know what !
    Michael Danby never impressed me as an outstanding intellect, his statements are sometimes contradictory, truncated, in “one” word, not an inspiration. As a politician belonging to an incredibly intransigent, merciless, knife wielding party, and also as a bloke who NEVER received any high honour – cabinet post -, he follows as a loyal Patrocles those who feed him the crumbs he seems to be happy with.
    His advise and anybody else’s who reckons that we, Jews, should not make “unnecessary” noises should be treated with the same disdain as any other similar stumm oberchuchems we have encountered for so many centuries.
    We all know, Michael, Peter et co, that postal, pre-election voting is available, tell us something we don’t know, but we expect blokes such as yourse to stand up in a manner that would prompt me to say : “I get naches from that Yid !!!”. Sadly , on this occasion, naches gurnischt !!!

  6. Phillip says:

    As I understand it a Jewish person is not supposed to “work” on the Shabbat or to gain any benefit from work done in his/her “business” on Shabbat.
    I also understand that Michael Danby won’t be campaigning or handing out how to vote cards on Yom Kippur, the date of the next Federal election.
    Does this mean no one else (Gentiles for example) will be campaigning or handing out cards for him?

    • Shirlee says:

      Other people will be working but the point is the candidate has to be seen around the electorate

  7. Morrie says:

    I understand Shirlee’s reservations about the scheduled Yom Kippur Federal poll. However, Peter Wertheim’s comments about customary Shabbat polls and the ample provision of pre-poll and postal voting facilities are more persuasive.
    If our rabbis and media promote the availability of these facilities, all Jews will be able to join their more observant co-religionists in exercising their democratic rights — without desecrating either Shabbat or Yom Kippur.

    • Shirlee says:

      It’s also about people such as myself who work the whole campaign to get a person elected and then cant be there for the Poll or the count

  8. Garry says:

    While it may cause some disappointment to Jewish voters, the fact is that every election day from time immemorial has been held on a Saturday, which is Shabbat and postal or pre-polling day viting has always been an option

    Garry Fabian

  9. Jed says:

    I suggest we boycott the election and not vote at all to show our objection to Gillard holding an election on Yom Kippur. I know I will!

    • Hayley says:

      Jed, that would be a very unwise thing to do. Every abstention is a vote for the ruling party.

      It was Joseph de Maistre who wrote in 1811 “Every nation gets the government it deserves.” In other words, if you don’t vote, you can’t gripe about the outcome.

      And is it not mandatory for Australian citizens to vote in a general election?

  10. Sheldon says:

    The Australian Government would never call an election on Christmas Day nor would they offend the Muslim community by calling it during Ramadan!!

    i fully understand that religious and observant Jewish members of our community always vote by postal vote, as elections are always held on Saturday.

    i am offended that the Prime Minister and Government for all Australians do not respect the holiest day of the Jewish Calender, Yom Kippur!!

    Football Finals for all codes dominate the news during the month of September, why aren’t the elections being held in the last week of August????????????

    Julia Gillard will still be given seats to the AFL Grand Final whether she is or is not the Prime Minister.

    • Lynne Newington says:

      Couldn’t it be symbolic in a positve way and never been done before, think about it.
      If God spoke through a donkey…….
      Before anyone tells me off… donkeys are very intelligent and it shouldn’t be taken as a vulgar epiteth.
      They won’t be pushed beyond their limits and won’t allow themselves be led by those they don’t trust.

  11. Shirlee says:


    “””But the head of the Executive Council of Australian Jewry, Peter Wertheim, is unperturbed, saying the clash of dates on September 14 ”is not an issue”

    Mr Wertheim reasons that every federal election is held on a Saturday – the Jewish Sabbath – and he believes that Jewish people are well used to voting early either by pre polling or through the mail.””–religion-before-politics-20130130-2dkmr.html#ixzz2JV3ck2S8

    Unfortunately the few on-line news sources that quote PW don’t have comment sections.

    What would Peter Wertheim know of Jewish voting habits.?

    I think I have worked on more than enough pre-poll booths and Polling days over the years to know that in the main it is observant Jews who pre-poll and think a good many people in the Community will be facing fines this year.

    As much as I don’t support Michael Danby’s political views, I do feel for him. I am aware it’s a fierce contest for his seat and that this could be a great disadvantage for him.

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