Wentworth final questions: Dr Kerryn Phelps

October 18, 2018 by J-Wire Newsdesk
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In the interests of ensuring that our community is properly informed and engaged in the political process The Executive Council of Australian Jewry asked the four candidates currently polling at over 10% of the primary vote (as per the Reachtell poll published on 17 September), to state their positions on matters of special concern to Jewish Australians. 

Wentworth final questions: Dr Kerryn Phelps


Security funding

Dr Kerryn Phelps

We have seen deadly terror attacks overseas in which Jewish communities were specifically targeted. Australian government agencies including the Australian Federal Police and ASIO have assessed that the Jewish community remains particularly vulnerable to an attack in Australia.

In light of this, the government currently provides direct assistance in meeting the security costs for Jewish schools. Recently this assistance was extended to a small number of other Jewish institutions including some synagogues, museums and community centres. However, the vast majority of non-school Jewish institutions which have applied for security funding assistance missed out.

  1. Do you support increasing the level of security funding assistance from the Federal government to at-risk institutions?

We are blessed to live in Australia with our harmonious multi-cultural community. Unfortunately, there is an increased threat of violence against some minority groups. Antisemitism is documented to be on the increase.

We need specific funding for groups recognised to be at greater risk.

I welcome the announcement of $2.2 million by the Federal government in the context of a Federal by-election campaign in Wentworth, which goes part of the way to providing the extra security needed for at-risk institutions in the Jewish community. I will be arguing for more funding to keep our community safe.


  1. Are you in favour of increasing, decreasing or maintaining at current levels Commonwealth funding for private schools?

I believe that investing in education is investing in the future of Australia. Government funding must be applied in an equitable way by a needs-based formula. I have met with David Gonski and representatives of the Teachers Federation to discuss this. The announcement of $4.6 billion in extra funding for non-government schools in the context of a Federal by-election in Wentworth is welcome. However, it is extremely disappointing that there was no announcement of a single dollar for public schools. This is particularly problematic in Wentworth because there is only one comprehensive secondary school in the electorate and there is a desperate need for another school to cope with the demand.

Foreign Policy

Recognising a Palestinian State

  1. Do you support formally recognising a State of Palestine, other than as an outcome of a negotiated agreement between Israel and the Palestinians? If the answer is other than ‘No’, please specify the circumstances in which your party would recognise such a State.



  1. Do you believe that Australia should recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and that the Australian embassy should be relocated from Tel Aviv to the Israeli government precinct in Jerusalem?

Both the Liberal Party and Labor Party policies are for the Australian embassy to stay in Tel Aviv. Their respective candidates are obliged to support that position. Other countries have endorsed the proposal for embassies to be located in the Israeli government precinct in west Jerusalem. Any unilateral move to have embassies moved to Jerusalem could have potentially adverse consequences. If elected, I would need to receive detailed security and foreign policy briefings before providing an opinion on this sensitive issue.


United Nations

The Executive Director of UN Watch, Hillel Neuer has charged that much of the UN “has been subverted by a relentless propaganda war against the Jewish state”.

  1. Do you agree? If so, what should Australia do to challenge this injustice?

Former Secretary-Generals of the United Nations have recognised this issue.

Kofi Annan was the first secretary-general to voice public criticism of UN bias against Israel.

In 2016 Ban Ki-moon said “Decades of political manoeuvering have created a disproportionate number of resolutions, reports and committees against Israel. In many cases, instead of helping the Palestinian issue, this reality has foiled the ability of the UN to fulfil its role effectively.”

In June this year, Britain’s Boris Johnson urged the UN Human Rights Council to reform its treatment of Israel, joining the United States in demanding an end to what has been described as the body’s bias against the Jewish state.

The United States left the UN Human Rights Council in June 2018, accusing member countries such as Venezuela, Cuba, China, Burundi and Saudi Arabia of failing to fulfil their duties to “uphold the highest standards” of human rights, while emphasizing what she said was the council’s anti-Israel bias, and most certainly treat Israel fairly.

The UN should find a balance in addressing human rights abuses around the world.

It should be noted, Australia’s use of open-ended offshore detention for asylum seekers hardly qualifies us as moral authorities on human rights issues, and this is frequently mentioned on the international scene

If elected, I would . to receive detailed security and foreign policy briefings before providing an opinion on how Australia might handle this sensitive issue.



America’s annual terrorism report (last published in July 2017) describes Iran as “the foremost state sponsor of terrorism”.

  1. Do you agree with this assessment?

I am an expert in health care and health policy, and an informed citizen. I am not an expert in state-sponsored terrorism. However, from my perspective as an Australian citizen, I am concerned about the growing influence of China’s military presence in the South China Sea. We have heard reports of Russia allegedly sending assassins to the UK. North Korea’s nuclear weapons program is another matter of concern with Australia within missile range. With respect to security in the Middle East, reports of Iran’s funding of terrorism and anti-Semitic and anti-Zionist rhetoric makes Iran appear to be the most dangerous threat for Jews in Israel and the diaspora.


Former Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Foreign Minister Julie Bishop expressed “regret” following the announcement by the US that it would withdraw from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) known as the “Iran deal”.

  1. Do you support the JCPOA?

Most Australian Jews recognise the threat posed by Iran and are happy that the United States of America is putting greater pressure on Iran to back off from its support of terrorists and fomenting of violence in the Middle East.

It is perhaps too soon to know whether the JCPOA or the new US policy is the better way to control Iran.


The International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (of which Australia is a Liaison Country) has adopted a working definition of antisemitism which recognises that antisemitism has the capacity to mutate and take on new forms in order to exploit or prosecute the contemporary conflict between Israel and the Palestinians. The working definition recognises that:

“Contemporary examples of antisemitism in public life, the media, schools, the workplace, and in the religious sphere could, taking into account the overall context, include:

  • Accusing the Jews as a people, or Israel as a state, of inventing or exaggerating the Holocaust.
  • Accusing Jewish citizens of being more loyal to Israel, or to the alleged priorities of Jews worldwide, than to the interests of their own nations.
  • Denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, e.g., by claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavour.
  • Applying double standards by requiring of it a behaviour not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation.
  • Using the symbols and images associated with classic antisemitism (e.g., claims of Jews killing Jesus or blood libel) to characterize Israel or Israelis.
  • Drawing comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis.
  • Holding Jews collectively responsible for actions of the state of Israel.”


  1. Do you accept the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA)-endorsed definition of antisemitism?



Religious Freedom


The same-sex marriage survey last year has led to claims that religious freedom is not adequately protected in Australia, and that religious institutions and organisations should have enhanced rights to discriminate in favour of members of their own faith, or to promote their own beliefs.


  1. Do you agree?

I believe that all Australians should be free to practice their religion, provided that does not impinge on the rights or freedoms of others.

More than any other group, the Jewish community understands the consequences of discrimination on the basis of religion.

I do not believe in any form of discrimination.

At a time when their only worry should be whether they get their homework done in time, some children have to worry that they may be expelled from school because they are gay or transgender.
We know the consequences of marginalisation and rejection are serious and potentially fatal, with high rates of suicide and attempted suicide in children and young people who are rejected or lack social support if they think they are gay or transgender.

Schools should provide supportive environments for these children and young people.

I believe that religion and faith communities should provide comfort and protection for vulnerable young people, not be the source of distress and despair.

As a doctor I am deeply concerned that after the bruising marriage equality campaign, yet another debate about the personal lives of LGBTQI people will open those wounds again.


2 Responses to “Wentworth final questions: Dr Kerryn Phelps”
  1. Adrian Jackson says:

    With the Wentworth Liberal vote going down the drain (as at 1900 hrs Sydney time) the embassy move stunt has fallen flat. Just Leave the Australian Embassy To Israel and Palestine (change the sign on the fence to reflect this) in picturesque Tel Aviv and open an Australian consulate to Israel and Palestine in Jerusalem. Then everyone will be happy.

  2. Michael Burd says:

    No doubt gay lgbt along with progressive left Jews will be voting for her (if not the Greens ) I imagine they would not gives a rats A if the embassy was moved to Israel’s capital nor would Israel Figure in their priorities.
    If Wentworth has more Christian Zionists she wouldn’t have a chance .

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