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The Hon. Scott Farlow MLC

From NSW Parliament Hansard 12 May, 2015


The Hon. SCOTT FARLOW [7.15 p.m.]: Tonight I speak about Israel's sixty-seventh Independence Day. Last week I had the great fortune of attending the New South Wales Jewish Board of Deputies function in celebration of Israel's sixty-seventh Independence Day. Of course, Israel's Independence Day marks the great occasion when the State of Israel was formed under the leadership of Ben-Gurion back in 1948. It is important for the Jewish people to have a home, for those who have been denied their land for 2,000 years to be reunited in their homeland Zion. This evening I shall reflect on some of my past experiences with the Jewish community in Australia, particularly in a personal sense.

My best friend is Jewish. At school that did not seem to me to be surprising or strange. When it was talked about in a Jewish poem, I raised the fact that Eugene was Jewish. I was surprised when he told me afterwards that I should not mention that fact, that I should keep it quiet. I found out why that was the case: following that comment he was assaulted by some students. That has always stood with me. Unfortunately, anti-Semitism still exists in our society today.

I live in Lindfield. When we moved to Lindfield a couple of years ago Masada College was still operating. As we passed that school, my wife asked me why there was a place with a security guard just two streets away from our home. I told her it was a school. She was shocked and appalled; she could not believe that a school would need a security guard on a Saturday. Unfortunately, this is something that people in our community, particularly the Jewish community, face in Sydney and New South Wales today.

The Jewish Board of Deputies must constantly address this issue. The offices of the Jewish Board of Deputies are definitely more secure than this Parliament. Indeed, they are probably more secure than anywhere else in this city and State, except for perhaps the United States consulate, because a threat against our Jewish community still exists in New South Wales. I denounce this threat to community safety, whether it is to the Jewish community or any other community in New South Wales. No group in our society should be forced to live this way and with this spectre hanging over their head. I am sure all members of this House would unite in condemning all forms of racism, violence and terrorism wherever they exist.

It is a concern that people in our community, our society, still face this threat. The school students routinely face bomb threats. They are taught at the age of six or seven how to evacuate the school and move to safe areas. That should not be happening in our society or in New South Wales. I stand shoulder to shoulder with the Jewish community in facing that threat. I was delighted to hear the Premier's say last week at the Israel Independence Day function that he would be leading a delegation of Australian businesses to Israel. It is important that we improve our trade relations with Israel, which is a dynamic economy in the Middle East.

Mr Jeremy Buckingham: And Palestine.

The Hon. SCOTT FARLOW: And Palestine and anywhere else that welcomes trade, New South Wales should be there. Israel in particular has proven itself to be a dynamic environment. Israel does not have the resources, the space or the size that we have but it has been innovative. We all understand that business in New South Wales and Australia should be more innovative and that is our future.

The Hon. Robert Brown: Particularly in water management.

The Hon. SCOTT FARLOW: In water management, technology, IT or whatever it may be, we need to be on that new frontier. Anything that assists us, such as overseas investment, to which the Hon. Dr Peter Phelps referred earlier, we welcome because it means a growing Australian economy and growth in Australian jobs. I express my thanks to the NSW Board of Deputies, its President Jeremy Spinak, its immediate past president Yair Miller, chief executive officer Vic Alhadeff, who is a great friend of mine and of many members in this Chamber, and Natalee Pozniak, the public affairs manager.

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