Premier briefs Sydney community leaders

February 4, 2014 by J-Wire Staff
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The Premier of NSW was guest of honour at an unprecedented dinner of 50 communal presidents and leaders on Monday night, hosted by the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies.

Yair Miller, Premier Barry O'Farrell and Peter Phillipsson

Yair Miller, Premier Barry O’Farrell and Peter Philippson   Photos: Giselle Haber

An initiative of Board president Yair Miller, the event created an opportunity for Premier Barry O’Farrell to address the community representatives on a broad range of issues of relevance to the Jewish community, as well as to wider society.

Referring to last September’s attack on Jewish families in Bondi and the previous year’s riots in Martin Place, O’Farrell said it was important to “focus on the reactions to those events. Within 12 hours of the riots, every major Muslim leader had condemned the incident,” he said. “And after the horror of the Bondi attack, there was response from across the board. That is where we must focus our energies. We make mistakes, but if we focus on where we are imperfect, we’ll miss the opportunities to do what we can.”

O’Farrell dwelt also on the growing economic ties between Israeli concerns and NSW, spoke of the work of the Australia-Israel Chamber of Commerce in promoting bilateral trade and cited the recently-signed agreement between the University of Sydney and The Technion. The NSW parliamentary missions to Israel organised by the Board of Deputies last year were significant in that regard, he said.

He strongly applauded the work of the Board of Deputies in advancing the cause of social harmony, such as its schools harmony program Respect, Understanding, Acceptance, and the government was pleased to be able to support that and other programs through the Community Relations Commission.

“You enrich our society,” he said. “We seek to partner with NGOs, which is why we are happy to work with the Board of Deputies.”

Yaron Finkelstein, Bruce Notley-Smith, Vic Alhadeff and Anna McPhee

Yaron Finkelstein, Bruce Notley-Smith, Vic Alhadeff and Anna McPhee

Chairing the function, Board president Yair Miller appealed to all organisational presidents to institute a system whereby their members would automatically also become members of the Board of Deputies. “This would obviously have some challenges but it is something we want to pursue,” he said.

He also urged them to ensure that their constituent deputies attend the Board’s monthly plenum meetings. “We understand that people have multiple demands on their time. However, we encourage attendance as often as possible because these meetings are a great vehicle for two-way dialogue between us and your organisation. They are an opportunity for your deputy to have input and vote on important issues and to report back to you on any new initiatives. The plenum is the key forum that gives our community that representative nature of which I spoke earlier and it is only effective if your representatives actually turn up and participate.

“I am probably biased but I strongly believe that life as a Jew in NSW is far more comfortable than in many other jurisdictions in part because of two key factors. One is the existence and work of the JCA. The other is the work we do on your behalf,” he said, pointing to a powerpoint he had earlier displayed about the Board’s work in cultivating important relationships and achieving positive political and social outcomes on behalf of the Jewish community.

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