Q&A with Caulfield candidates
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Election 'Great Debate'

Q&A with Caulfield candidates

Ahead of the Caulfield Great Debate on November 3, The AJN asked each of the four candidates who will be appearing about their policies, general and Jewish community issues, and how their Judaism has inspired them.

David Southwick
Liberal, incumbent MP

How has your Judaism inspired your desire to give back by running as a candidate? 

Raised in a proud Jewish household and a family that put charity at the centre of daily life, I learnt the importance of tradition, family, and taking care of those less fortunate. My Jewish identity was furthered at Mount Scopus, where I learnt the values of Chesed, Tzedakah, and Tikkun Olam. Scopus taught me that we are all responsible for driving the change we want to see in the world. We are all responsible for committing to acts of kindness and charity and doing our part to improve our community. I ran for Parliament to do that, to provide a caring voice for the Caulfield community, because I believe that we can be better together.

What are the issues that you think are important in the electorate? 

I continue hearing from locals that we have achieved so much as a community, we all love where we live, but deserve better from our state government.

Key local issues include redeveloping our over 100-year-old Caulfield hospital, dilapidated and chronically underfunded schools, small business support, overdevelopment, lack of open space, housing affordability, and community safety.

Why should the people of Caulfield elect you over the other candidates? 

Because I have a record of delivering for the community, and I have always put our community first. Some of my proudest achievements include delivering the ban on the display of the Nazi Swastika, standing up to the BDS movement, Balaclava & Ormond Station, upgrading Elsternwick Plaza, and opening up Caulfield Racecourse for public use. I did not do it alone, but by working alongside many of our proud community members and organisations, who have dedicated their time to further these important causes. My relationships throughout the community, regardless of politics, are my greatest strength, and if re-elected you can be sure that I will keep on working with anyone who needs my assistance.

What do you see as issues specific to the Jewish community and what policies do you have to address those? 

The Jewish community faces continuing pressures, most notably rising antisemitism and hostility to Israel, including security threats, combined with cost of living pressures that are affecting our way of life (such as the costs of a Jewish education).

We have committed $600,000 to the Community Security Group to expand and maintain its control room, CCTV capacity and to train volunteers with a focus on a new women’s empowerment program.

I want to see more programs in our school system that deal with the causes of antisemitism, in addition to Holocaust education, and which actively tackles the rise of neo-Nazism. This also extends to our university campuses, where Jewish students face discrimination simply because they wish to express support for Israel.

I will also work with our community to make Jewish education more accessible to our community. Our schools and youth groups have contributed so much to the community over many years, and I want to ensure that continues to happen.

Nomi Kaltmann
Independent

How has your Judaism inspired your desire to give back by running as a candidate?

There is a famous saying from Ethics of our Fathers: “It is not up to you to finish the task, but you are not free to avoid it.” My Jewish values infuse everything I do, including my desire to improve my local community. Long before I was running as a candidate for Parliament, I dedicated many hours to charities and community groups that help persons with disability, relieve food insecurity, work with persons who have gone through the criminal justice system, as well as promote the voices of women in leadership.

What are the issues that you think are important in the electorate?

Caulfield is a community of thoughtful and caring people. We want to see our front-line workers, teachers, and nurses given the conditions and pay to stop burn out. We want to see real action on climate change, with policies that tell industry we are serious about a cleaner future. Most importantly, people want to have a say on what happens within our community – and to have input into the decisions about the future of the Caulfield hospital redevelopment as well as greater public access to the Caulfield racecourse.

Why should the people of Caulfield elect you over the other candidates?

Independents like me offer an opportunity for politics to be done differently, instead of the same games that major parties have always played. The major parties do not care for the community, and they do not deliver for the community. Their playbook encourages grandiose promises of new carparks and cheap public transport around election time to buy votes, rather than spending the previous 4 years focusing on thoughtful community engagement on policy. I answer only to the people of Caulfield, and all my policies will reflect that. I will support any policy that is right for my community.

What do you see as issues specific to the Jewish community and what policies do you have to address those?

The Jewish community is worried about rising antisemitism and the insidiousness of the BDS [Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions] movement, but our ability to address these issues is curtailed if the Government of the day doesn’t care to talk to our community about our concerns (i.e. the Labor party’s Jerusalem decision). If elected I will make sure that our community is represented and no decisions like this will be made without input and conversations from the Jewish community.

Lior Harel
Labor

How has your Judaism inspired your desire to give back by running as a candidate? 

My Jewish background and upbringing form an essential part of my values and form part of my inspiration of running for public office. A focus on the benefits of education and learning, the importance of tzedakah – helping those in need, and a decency and integrity fostered on the concept of ‘veahavta lereacha kamocha’ – do unto others as you would want done to you.

What are the issues that you think are important in the electorate? 

Some of the key issues raised in my discussions with locals include childcare, cost of living pressures, climate change, and improved infrastructure around Glen Huntly station. I’m proud to be representing a party that is delivering actual outcomes for Victorians – from making the Frankston line crossing-free ahead of schedule and growing Victoria’s investment in renewables that will pave the way for lower energy costs.

Why should the people of Caulfield elect you over the other candidates? 

This is my first time getting involved in politics after a 20-year career in business and law. I have a fresh perspective that can help deliver real outcomes for Caulfield, not social media gimmicks. Now more than ever, the people of Caulfield deserve a local member who gets serious things done. If the Labor Government was re-elected, and I was elected as the first Labor MP for Caulfield, residents would for the first time in 8 years have a local representative who sits in Government.

What do you see as issues specific to the Jewish community and what policies do you have to address those?

Antisemitism is on the rise across the world, and our community in Victoria is not immune. I am proud of the fact that the Andrews Labor Government introduced a ban on the intentional display of the Swastika. Further, in 2020, the Government was able to secure new and refreshed teaching and learning resources for Holocaust education in all government secondary schools, plus increased funding to Holocaust awareness organisations such as Courage to Care. At the same time, the Government has funded initiatives aimed at celebrating Jewish life and culture, including a $5m investment in the Jewish Arts Quarter in Elsternwick.

Rachel Iampolski
Greens

How has your Judaism inspired your desire to give back by running as a candidate?

The spirit of tikkun olam is central to my political beliefs and worldview. It’s what I want to see better fostered in our Government. I am motivated by the way that the Jewish community cares for its people, presently and throughout history, despite persecution. The Jewish spirit persists, and this proud legacy has been foundational in shaping my values.  The opportunity to represent our community and reflect these values in our parliament is both a historic privilege and responsibility I don’t take lightly.

What are the issues that you think are important in the electorate?

We are a diverse community and the key issues are many and varied, but what I know for a fact is that Caulfield deserves better. Common concerns I hear are (in no particular order): cost of living; affordable housing; urgent climate action; feeling disenfranchised from politics and distrust of ‘big’ government; better planning to avoid inappropriate development; increased funding for public education, health care and aged care; and concerns over the rise of the far-right and threats to (cultural) safety.

Why should the people of Caulfield elect you over the other candidates?

Your vote is powerful. This year we’ve seen record numbers of people voting Green and with more Greens in Parliament, we can push the next government to go further and faster on climate. We have evidence-based, independently-costed policies on housing affordability, transport, education, healthcare and more. Instead of looking after people, Labor and the Liberals give special treatment to big corporate interests, like gas corporations and big property developers. The need for a progressive cross-bench has never been greater. With the Greens you know you can trust us to put people and planet first.

What do you see as issues specific to the Jewish community and what policies do you have to address those?

A common concern is the ongoing threat of antisemitism. As a Jewish person with a family history of fleeing bigoted attacks, I understand this first-hand. We are the only party with a specific, detailed policy to fight racism and will continue to call out the very real threats of neo-nazi white supremacists. Victorian Greens leader Samantha Ratnam led the parliamentary inquiry into these extremist threats. Greens members are at the forefront in creating robust anti-vilification policy and working together to reckon with our past and build a more equal, compassionate and anti-racist future for all of us.

Due to overwhelming demand, The Caulfield Great Debate will now take place on November 3 at Glen Eira Town Hall. Registration essential: australianjewishnews.com/meet-the-candidates

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