Leaders welcome premier

A new era: Jacinta and the Jewish community

Jewish communal leaders have welcomed the election of Jacinta Allan, with JCCV president Daniel Aghion looking forward working with Victoria's new Premier.

Then new Victorian Premier Jacinta Allan visited the Beth Weizmann Community Centre in May for the first time, touring the Lamm library, spending time with Access Inc and seeing first hand recent security upgrades. Photo: Peter Haskin
Zionism Victoria president Yossi Goldfarb (left), then Deputy Premier Jacinta Allan and Beth Weizmann Community Centre chair Sam Tatarka at Beth Weizmann in May. Photo: Peter Haskin

Jewish communal leaders have welcomed the election of Jacinta Allan, who was sworn in as Victoria’s 49th Premier last Wednesday, after the resignation of Daniel Andrews.

Allan, formerly Deputy Premier, became Victoria’s new Premier after a Victorian ALP caucus meeting earlier that day.

The Member for Bendigo East was widely expected to succeed the long-running Premier when he announced last week he would be stepping down after nine years.

She emerged with the top job after a last-minute bid by then Public Transport Minister Ben Carroll to become Premier did not proceed. Carroll became Deputy Premier.

Jewish Community Council of Victoria (JCCV) president Daniel Aghion said he and his organisation look forward to continuing their strong relationship with the Victorian government and working with the new Premier.

“I met with then Deputy Premier Allan just a few weeks ago and she showed interest in and understanding of the Victorian Jewish community,” Aghion told The AJN. “There are certainly issues that the JCCV will take up with Premier Allan, including ongoing efforts to ensure the safety of Jewish students attending government schools.”

Aghion also paid tribute to Colin Brooks, who served as Minister for Multicultural Affairs under Andrews, but emerged with different portfolios after a ministerial reshuffle on Monday.

The JCCV leader thanked Brooks for “his genuine engagement with our community”.

“[He] attended a number of community functions, including the community Yom Hashoah commemoration, Yom Ha’atzmaut cocktail party, Pillars of Light Chanukah festival and a community leaders’ roundtable at Caulfield Shule. We thank Minister Brooks for his support and wish him all the best in his new role.”

Zionism Victoria president Yossi Goldfarb noted, “Over the years, I’ve been privileged to work with Jacinta Allan and am fully confident that the intellect, passion and drive that I’ve witnessed first-hand will be a tremendous boon to Victoria.”

He said that in recent months, Zionism Victoria had met with Allan “on a number of occasions to discuss issues of concern to the community and found her wholly receptive and keen to learn more”.

The Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council’s national chairman Mark Leibler and executive director Colin Rubenstein have formally written to Allan to congratulate her. Additionally they acknowledged Victorian Labor’s “sincere and steadfast support for the Jewish community in the fight against antisemitism and racism”, referring to laws banning Nazi symbols and the proposed widening of the ban to include Nazi salutes; and the adoption of the IHRA antisemitism definition.

In May this year, during her first visit to Beth Weizmann Community Centre – a communal visit that many saw as a preparation for eventually taking on the role of Premier – Allan had remained tight-lipped about any leadership ambitions when prompted by The AJN.

She had viewed the Lamm Library of Australia, its historical artefacts and samples of Write Your Story, its Jewish memoirs program. She chatted with Access Inc participants and was briefed on its programs. And she reviewed the $2 million-plus security upgrade implemented in 2020, of which her government was the principal funder.

Allan said at the time, “This is an important community centre and also a place where many people come each day for work, so it’s important to provide a safe and supportive work environment.”

During his nine years as Premier, Andrews had a major impact on Victoria’s Jewish community – as a champion of Israel, a driving force against antisemitism, and for security upgrades to schools and shules.

The triple-election winner – acclaimed for ambitious public works programs but slammed for Victoria’s spiralling public debt and his top-down governing style – told media last week, “It’s time to go and to give this privilege, this amazing responsibility, to someone else.”

An avowed supporter of Israel, Andrews told a Yom Ha’atzmaut event at Caulfield Shule in 2015 he saw Israel as “a home for a culture as old as civilisation … for the survivors of mankind’s worst crime … a great, precarious social and economic experiment willed by a brave people”.

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