‘I go with a generous heart’
"I know it's a privilege to be in this role. I think it's also the kind of role that you pass on to somebody else at some point."
Departing Vaucluse MP Gabrielle Upton has described her dealings with the Jewish community in the electorate as “probably the most deep, trusted, communal relationship I had” during her 12 years in Parliament.
Elected in 2011, she announced last year that she will not recontest the seat. She told The AJN the timing was right to move on.
“It has been just the most amazingly deep and purposeful job I’ve had, and I go with a generous heart,” she said. “I know it’s a privilege to be in this role. I think it’s also the kind of role that you pass on to somebody else at some point.”
The former NSW Parliamentary Friends of Israel chair said she was proud to have secured funding for Jewish communal security infrastructure in 2019, of her role on the joint select committee looking into religions freedoms, and of seeing legislation passed last year to ban the display of Nazi symbols.
“I’d like to think the racial vilification offences, the display of Nazi symbols bills, the anti-discrimination, the religious freedoms – they’re all a product of a really good, solid, deep, trusting relationship with the Jewish community,” she said.
Upton warmly reflected upon joining communal events including Shabbat dinners, Chanukah candle lightings, NAJEX commemorations, National Council of Jewish Women of Australia events, JewishCare citizenship ceremonies, events at Jewish schools, and “just even every Thursday getting my AJN on my front porch”.
Asked about her fondest memories, she described the yearly Holocaust remembrance ceremonies as “so sobering” and “always a really good touchstone for me to remember what’s important”.
She described NSW Jewry as “a leader of other community groups”.
“It’s very sophisticated. It’s very purposeful. It’s very humanitarian. And it shows the way for other communal groups,” she said.
She added that being honoured at last week’s NSW Jewish Board of Deputies plenum was “quite an emotional experience”.
On life after politics, Upton, who has visited Israel three times, said, “I do want to work in the innovation space.
“I’ve learned a lot through observing Israel.
“And that’s, you know, another reason why the relationship with the community will continue.”