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Saturday, 11 August 2007

Labor makes a significant gesture

Labor to fund schools with security needs
THE tussle for the Jewish vote in Malcolm Turnbull's seat of Wentworth shifted up a gear yesterday when Kevin Rudd countered a Government plan by offering to directly fund security for schools with "particular threat assessments".
Mr Rudd made the announcement in Wentworth accompanied by the Labor candidate, George Newhouse, himself a prominent eastern suburbs Jew.

Mr Rudd said a Labor government would spend $20 million over four years to fund security for schools across the nation with "particular security needs and particular threat assessments".
"There are a number of threats to school communities where questions of religious affiliation, questions of racial hatred are involved," he said.

As reported in yesterday's Herald, the Howard Government had already granted a request by Australia's Jews for donations to a security fund to be made tax deductible. The fund would pay for security at schools, synagogues and other Jewish properties.

The Council for Jewish Community Security will become a deductible gift recipient under the Income Tax Assessment Act.

Although this will be a national program, Mr Turnbull made the announcement in a statement yesterday.

"There are elements in our society who preach hatred against Jews and against Israel and as a consequence the Jewish community faces a security threat far greater than that confronted by most Australians," he said.

Mr Rudd said Labor might adopt the Government's plan in addition to his own "if it's got merit". He said Labor's idea was better because security "is not just a community obligation".

"The Commonwealth should front up and discharge its obligation as well," he said.

Meanwhile Labor's national executive yesterday replaced the candidate for the federal marginal seat of La Trobe with a war hero.

Rodney Cocks, an Australian Army officer and United Nations security adviser, will now contest the Victorian seat, held by the Coalition's Jason Wood by a 5.9 per cent margin.

The party's national executive will rubber-stamp Mr Cocks next week to replace the union official Greg Pargeter. The ALP now considers La Trobe a winnable seat and Mr Cocks was considered a first-class candidate.

Mr Cocks, the 2005 Victorian of the year, was serving in East Timor but holidaying in Kuta at the time of the 2002 Bali bombings. He was awarded the Conspicuous Service Medal for his actions in the aftermath.

As a UN adviser in Iraq, he was injured in the 2003 suicide bomb attack on the UN's Baghdad headquarters but still helped the wounded and dying. He is now serving in Afghanistan.

Labor's national executive also appointed the Tasmanian state secretary, Julie Collins, as the candidate for Franklin, ending a messy dispute which resulted in the resignation of the original candidate, Kevin Harkins.

The Liberal Party was still deciding yesterday on a method to select a candidate for the Sydney seat of Cook following the controversial disqualification of Michael Towke.

Bagelblogger: The simple truth is the cost of providing security for Jewish organisations and schools, is substantial. I'm of the opinion that the majority of this expense should have always been borne by the Australian Federal government.

This is a significant gesture by the Labor party and can't be underestimated when people decide which party is best for the community.

One might feel on a trail of broken promises and actions too late in the making, the gesture of the Liberal party to give donations towards a Jewish security fund, tax deductible status is way over due.

Come the federal election decisions are going to have to be made, and they're going to hurt.

Smh: Labor to fund schools with security needs


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