Opera House to light up for Israel
The sails of the iconic landmark have become the perfect canvas to show just how proud NSW is of its colourful diversity.
The NSW Liberal and Nationals government will light the sails of the Sydney Opera House blue and white to commemorate the 75th anniversary of Israel’s independence if re-elected.
Premier Dominic Perrottet, who told The AJN this week that if re-elected, “I’ll be definitely visiting Israel in the next term of government,” said the sails of the iconic landmark had become the perfect canvas to show just how proud NSW is of its colourful diversity.
“We welcome people from all corners of the globe who come to NSW to share in the opportunities we offer and our values as a multicultural and multi-faith society,” Perrottet said.
“The Jewish community is a strong part of our society, and we know they have made great contributions to the success of our state. Lighting the sails of the Sydney Opera House is about recognising Israel’s centrality to Jewish life.”
Noting the historical significance of the milestone, NSW Jewish Board of Deputies (JBD) CEO Darren Bark said, “NSW and Israel share a warm, long-lasting relationship based on common values.
“The lighting of the Opera House with the colours of the Israeli flag reinforces that no matter our background, our faith or the language we speak, everyone is welcome and has a place to call home in our cohesive, multicultural state.”
JBD president David Ossip added, “We thank the Premier and the NSW Liberal and National government for standing with the State of Israel and the Jewish community in celebrating this historic and momentous occasion that will be remembered for years to come.”
The government has also committed $100,000 for capital works at The Great Synagogue.
One-on-one with Premier Dominic Perrottet
We will do everything within our government’s power to make sure that violence plaguing other parts of the world does not find its way here.
How well have you gotten to know the Jewish community in your time not just as Premier, but while in Parliament?
Very well during my time, particularly working with the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies, as a Member of Parliament, finance minister, treasurer, now as Premier, in terms of understanding the needs and concerns of the Jewish community in NSW.
Certainly, I’ve grown an appreciation of that. And the work that we’ve put together particularly for the Jewish Museum, I know will make a real difference. It’s also about ensuring that we educate younger people, particularly in relation to matters affecting the Jewish community.
Security has always been a big thing that I’ve picked up on, particularly in relation to places of worship, around synagogues and around schools, and we’ve put a significant investment into that as well. So I’ve really got to grow a great affiliation and friendship with the Jewish community over the time that I’ve been in public life.
You made a big funding announcement last week for the Sydney Jewish Museum, bringing the government’s investment to $10 million. How do you see the role the museum plays within the wider fabric of NSW and educating on antisemitism and extremism?
[It’s] a very important role. I want every child in NSW to go through the Jewish Museum to learn of the atrocities of the Holocaust, but it’s not just an understanding of those atrocities that’s important. It’s also the beautiful message that’s sent about tolerance, acceptance and forgiveness. And those are very important messages for our young people today. Obviously our young people are the future of our great state and the more we can do to educate them, the better.
And when I’ve had the great opportunity numerous times to go to the Jewish Museum, I still find it touching every single time and get a greater appreciation and understanding. And I think that’s something that we should encourage all young people to do.
And I know that the expansion, the $10 million will make a real difference and ensure that more school groups and younger people can go through the museum. And not just younger people, older people as well. But ultimately, I think from the educational aspect, I think having young people go through the museum is incredibly important, [so we want] to make it the best that it can be and I know that this investment will make a real difference.
And Holocaust education more broadly, how important is it for kids in schools to learn about the atrocities?
Crucial. It’s incredibly, incredibly important because if we don’t appreciate and have an understanding of the past, then we cannot appreciate and ensure that that never happens again. Also, just to get a greater understanding. We’ve got such a great multicultural, diverse community and I think that’s something we should celebrate. The more we can do and the better we can make that museum, the more we will have a real difference in our children’s lives.
Let’s talk about security funding. You made a major announcement a couple of weeks ago about security funding for faith groups. What is your appreciation of the importance of security for the Jewish community?
As a Liberal, the freedom to practise one’s faith is paramount and so important. That’s why we’ve made a $10 million investment to strengthen safety and security at all religious institutions. I’ve given my full commitment that we will do everything within our government’s power to make sure that violence plaguing other parts of the world does not find its way here.
An attack on one faith is an attack on all faiths, and that investment I think will make a real difference in ensuring that every single person across NSW feels safe in the practice of their faith, and as somebody of faith myself, that’s incredibly important.
In the Jewish community, every shule you go to has security out the front and much of this cost gets borne by the community itself. Liberal candidate for Vaucluse Kellie Sloane said she feels the government has an obligation to also help in that area.
Yes we do. And it is a partnership between government and faith based communities. This is one of the areas that came through our Religious Communities Advisory Council which we set up – having all our faith groups together, working through areas of common understanding where they believe government can make the biggest impact in terms of providing support. The first issue that arose and recommendation to the government was this investment of $10 million in terms of boosting security and safety for faith communities. We immediately accepted that recommendation, and I think this committee will play an even more vital role as we move forward, providing recommendations to government on how we can provide greater support.
Another issue is religious bullying in schools. When you and I spoke a few months ago, you mentioned potentially getting a school bullying reporting portal up and I know the Labor Party has pledged to do that. Are you going to do that as well?
What we’re doing, firstly, is education. Bullying happens in schools for a whole range of reasons and there’s no place for that behaviour in any setting, let alone our schools. Any suggestions that come through the [Religious Communities Advisory] Council – and I know they are working on that now – I’m certainly open to doing, as I already have done.
One of the most important things I think we can do is to increase respect in our schools and classrooms.
We’ve already introduced important reforms to lift the standards of behaviour. And I’m very committed as Premier to continue working with our religious, faith-based communities to tackle this issue, and I’m open to any suggestions.
I believe you are also making a funding commitment to the Great Synagogue.
I met with Rabbi Benjamin Elton last month. And he spoke to me about the importance of the Great Synagogue and the work that needs to be done there. And so following that meeting, we’re committing to $100,000 towards works within the synagogue, and importantly that will help with fireproofing and restoring the ark, where the Torah is displayed. So that’s something that has come through and that we are delivering on.
Would you look at taking a trip to Israel in your next term if re-elected? What are the opportunities for collaboration between NSW and Israel?
I definitely would love to do a trip to Israel. I’ve always wanted to have that opportunity. It’s been obviously difficult in the time that I’ve been Premier, with all the floods and those challenges.
But if re-elected, I’ll be definitely visiting Israel in the next term of government and I’m very much looking forward to that because of the great connections, not just from a faith perspective, but also the great synergies that we have together and the opportunities for both Israel and NSW moving forward.
Member for Vaucluse Gabrielle Upton and Member for Davidson Jonathan O’Dea have had longstanding relationships with the Jewish communities in their electorates. Given both are retiring at this election, would you say a few words about their contributions?
Gabrielle and Jono have been great advocates for their local communities and have made significant contributions to the NSW Parliament and to the people of our great state – whether it’s Gabrielle in her time serving in many ministerial portfolios, including the first ever female Attorney-General of our great state, she’s served the people of Vaucluse with absolute distinction.
And likewise, Jono, he’s been the Speaker of the House, he’s served in various senior roles and he’s been a great Member for the people of Davidson.
I know that [Liberal candidate for Davidson] Matt Cross and [Liberal candidate for Vaucluse] Kellie Sloane will follow very well in their footsteps. They have big shoes to fill but I have complete confidence that they will do an outstanding job.