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For the young, the elderly, and for Israel, vote Liberal

August 10, 2010 – 11:06 am33 Comments

By Nadav Prawer

The dual identity of being both Australian and Jewish can present a conflict of loyalties when it comes to elections. Do I vote as an Aussie first, or as a Jew? Is there a conflict? Can I be selfish and vote for the party offering me personally the best deal? These are questions of philosophy, of identity and of personal values. But let’s face it; politics today in Australia is about people, not parties. On most issues there is little ostensible difference in the positions held by most Australians, and hence politicians as they desperately scramble towards the centre. Both the major parties and the Greens scramble to find competent and capable people willing to subject themselves to the merciless spotlight of political life, people whom the parties’ members feel can make a real difference.

In this, all sensible political parties are the same.  Whilst Labor has more convoluted and controversial selection processes, with affirmative action, factions and a central committee parachuting in some candidates, at heart federal elections, driven by passionate volunteers in each electorate, are a series of local contests played out to the tune of national media campaigns.

This is because governing a country is about more than campaign promises and pledged spending. All the spending promises by both sides combined amount to only a few percent of the total budget for the Federal Government. Elections are really about deciding who you want to have running the country when the unexpected happens. Just as no-one in politics predicted the global financial crisis, the Asian currency crisis, the Bali bombings or September 11, no political plan, like in war, survives first contact with the changing reality of the world we live in and the needs of our country.

This leads us to then to the core contrast between the two parties. The last term has seen a government that has simply, by any measure, done a bad job. Rudd and Gillard have borrowed an unprecedented amount of money to fund a series of programs. This is not of itself a problem. However, the poor cost-benefit return and the bungles seen in home insulation, green loans, the national broadband network, childcare, laptops for students, Fuel Watch (remember that one), Grocery Watch, school halls, healthcare, tax reform, foreign policy and every other major area of policy operation demonstrates that the people put forward by the ALP to run the country simply haven’t been competent to manage general affairs, much less ‘revolutionise’ the country. If Gillard and Rudd were CEOs, the shareholders would have long since shown them the door. As Australians in general, there is no value for us in rewarding incompetence, rather than installing managers of real capability. By contrast, the Coalition showed real ability to manage the country and grow the economy.

As Jews, however, we also have other interests. As we are diverse people, whose opinions are more innumerable than the stars, I won’t attempt to argue, as some have, that the values of any one party are a complete embrace of all that our community holds dear. However, amongst Australian Jews, there is at least a general consensus on support for Israel, the importance of quality education in accordance with our Jewish and/or religious values, childcare and, increasingly, how we look after our elderly, ‘Kibud Horim.’ On all of these issues, any sensible comparison shows Labor falling well behind. The expulsion of an Israeli diplomat served to legitimise the demonization of Israel for taking necessary actions in self-defence. Coming from the Australian government, this has been taken as a dramatic victory for the other side and has been embraced by such ‘leading lights’ as Antony Loewenstein. Coupled with the marring of the proud record of voting with Israel in the UN, Labor has shown a willingness to let Israel fall by the wayside in pursuit of other interests, allegedly a seat for Rudd on the Security Council.

On education and childcare, Labor has shown that it is not just a question of poor service delivery, but values. Gillard showed herself to be an incompetent education minister, who has only grudgingly agreed not to slash funding for private schools, at least for another two years. Even then, in real terms under Labor, private school students will face annual decreases in funding. On the question of childcare, Labor’s broken promise to build childcare centres has created critical shortages in places like Caulfield, Bondi, St Kilda and Rose Bay, particularly in infant care. The Liberal policy of both indexing childcare benefits and paying rebates weekly to families will make a real difference, especially to young families. On aged care and the elderly, the ‘Labor Rat’ has already shown us Gillard’s priorities.

We, as Australians and as Jews, can and should evaluate how good governments are based on their performance, not their promises. Government, at heart, must have policy that meets our needs and the capacity to deliver it effectively. The last three years, compared to the decade before that, highlight why, in terms of both capable people and compatible values, Jews and Australians should vote for the Liberal Party.

The opinions in this article are those only of the writer. The writer is not an official spokesman for the Liberal Party.

This article is part of a series Galus Australis is running for the 2010 Australian federal election whereby we publish articles by supporters of  various political parties.  Please contact us if you are interested in contributing.

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