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The Liberals’ Kevin Ekendahl: A Strong Local Voice for the Community

September 3, 2013 – 7:36 pm21 Comments

By Kevin Ekendahl:

kevin ekendahl1I am very proud of my Jewish heritage and will always stand up for my community. Being the representative of Melbourne Ports – perhaps the largest and most vibrant of the Jewish communities – brings with it a special responsibility to represent the views of the large Jewish population.  I will be a strong local voice for our Jewish community and Israel.
Israel & Jewish Community
As I’m out speaking with residents in Melbourne Ports, increasingly, Jewish voters often talk to me about how they are concerned with Labor’s recent stance on Israel and the perceived lack of respect the Labor leaders have shown our Jewish community.  The Foreign Minister, Senator Bob Carr, recently spoke on behalf of the Labor Government condemming Israeli settlements saying they were all illegal, which was a significant shift from what has always been a strong bipartisan stance in support of Israel.  This, coupled with Labor abstaining from the vote giving Palestinian observer status at the United Nations, having the former Prime Minister call an election on Yom Kippur and not including Israel as one of the nations able to access the electronic travel authority (ETA) for easy travel to Australia has not been received well in our community. Many in our community are rightly concerned about the shift in Labor’s stance.
Many other Jewish voters in Melbourne Ports also talk to me about the increasing cost of living and are concerned about the $300billion debt the Labor Government is leaving us.  Having a strong economy and cutting unnecessary taxes so that business can grow and invest in jobs is a major issue which people have been speaking to me about.
A coalition government will:
-Increase opposition to the Boycott, Divestments and Sanctions (BDS) campaign by withdrawing federal funding from individuals and organisations that actively back the movement.
-Include Israel as one of the countries that can access the ETA for it’s citizens
-Review the extremist organisations which are banned from operating in Australia with a view to deciding whether additional organisations should be banned 
-Provide $18million in recurrent funding over three years for schools at risk, including a component towards the cost of security guards 
-Provide $50million over four years for the ‘Safer Street, Safer Suburbs’ plan to enhance security that can be used for the Jewish community
-Never compromise our strong support for Israel to gain favour with an anti-Israeli majority in the United Nations General Assembly
Schools & Education
I have two young brothers that attend a Jewish Day school and I am well aware of the constant security risk that Jewish schools face every day.  Having adequate security for schools at risk is one of my key priorities should I be elected.  The coalition has recently announced that it will provide $18million in recurrent funding for the Secure Schools program.  This will include funding for security guards.
I have met with local Jewish schools and acknowledge the concerns the community has about the future viability of Jewish day schools and ongoing funding.  The coalition will guarantee that no Jewish school will be worse off in real terms.  Labor have continued to show that they are incapable of being able to implement any policy decision.  Schools need certainty in funding and should be able to make their own decisions through more autonomy for principals and school councils.  In Melbourne Ports, schools in some parts of the electorate have been neglected by Labor – a result of the area being taken for granted as it has traditionally been a safe Labor area.  I am passionate about ensuring that;
- All students have access to world-best education opportunities, and provide schools with funding certainty which means real increases in funding as costs rise
-Increasing capacity for existing schools in Melbourne Ports which are already experiencing overcrowding, such as those in Port Melbourne & Albert Park
-Urging the State Government to expedite the purchase & planning of a new school in South Melbourne
-Giving parents greater choices in determining and accessing education they consider most suitable for their children
-Taking real action to address the inequalities in our education system, by improving the outcomes for the most disadvantaged students, including those with special needs
-Giving principals and schools councils more autonomy and authority in the running of their schools
Jobs & The Economy
I was just starting high school when Labor’s Paul Keating lead us into the ‘recession we had to have’.  It was a time when people were paying up to 18% interest and unemployment was soaring.  I learnt at the time that Labor’s management of the economy left a lot to be desired – it seems nothing has changed.  Australia is now fast approaching nearly $300billion in debt, and Labor are yet to produce a surplus (let alone a balanced) budget.
Only the coalition has a plan to cut the company tax rate by 1.5%, building on our proven track record of delivering real tax reform focused on cutting and simplifying taxation in Australia.  This tax cut will restore confidence in the management of Australia’s economy, boost job creation, and help workers across all sectors of our economy.
This election
The electorate of Melbourne Ports has been held by Labor for more than 100 years. This election I hope to change that.  I want to give confidence to the Jewish voters that I will be a strong local voice for our community – and I know every member of the coalition is rock solid behind Israel and the Jewish community.
This election is a clear choice between a united Coalition with a clear plan for Australia’s future and a solid commitment to support Israel – and a divided and chaotic Labor party which has weakened our longstanding bipartisanship on Israel and the Jewish community.
This election, choose a candidate that will be a strong local voice in a united team in a better Government.

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  • letters in the age says:


    Thanks Kevin but i also see a future P.m in this wonderful man that also talks about his heritage in a brilliant article.

    This is a star in the making…Jason Yat Sen Li.

    A future p.m in the making that could easily qualify for the liberal party as well.

    The article was a lovely riposte to a silly article written by a a dill of a journalist …see link below.


  • Rob says:

    With all due respect to Mr Ekendahl, who strikes me as a good person and sincere in his efforts to support our community, I find it hard to understand his & his Jewish News letter-writing brigade (yes, many of them volunteer on his campaign) tactic of attacking the Labor Party’s record on Israel. There may be some in our community who would be happy to see Israel become a Liberal only cause, but surely it is in our best interests for it to be as bipartisan as possible.

    Undoubtedly, the likely Coalition Government will, as a whole, be more pro-Israel than the Labor Party has been under FM Bob Carr & PM Rudd. But it is far from the anti-Israel machine it has been made out to be. It has, to its credit, repudiated the BDS, supported a 2-state solution and Michael Danby’s influence, far from diminished, seems to have been instrumental in fighting off forces that would see it lurch far further away than the abstention. If we are worried about Labor’s record on Israel now, we should be even more concerned about how it would be without Michael Danby fighting as hard as he does for it.

    It might be easy for supporters of Israel to give the ALP the boot when the Coalition are about to gain power, but they can’t be in Government forever, and in 6 years’ time we may be sorely missing Labor MPs of Michael Danby’s calibre if he is dumped.

    I generally otherwise vote for the Liberal party but Mr Danby has always had my vote & he has been an outstanding representative of our community. I hope the residents of Melbourne Ports see it as I do – the Liberal party will win Government without Melbourne Ports & it would only be in the anti-Israel brigade’s best interests to see one less Jewish representative in the ALP – not in our community’s.

  • :) says:

    Hey Rob –
    (I agree with most of what you wrote, but I just want to pick you up on one point)

    You said “the likely Coalition Government will, as a whole, be more pro-Israel than the Labor Party has been”.

    But what exactly is “pro-Israel”? It pro-Israel unequivocal diplomatic support for Likkud? What if Shelly Yachimovic were in power – would the the Coalition’s level of support be the same? Or would they urge Yachimovic to lurch back to the right? Does the Coalition support Israel no matter what, no matter who is in power, no matter what their policies?

    Because if supporting Israel means supporting Israel’s survival, and supporting Israel’s safety, then doesn’t condemning settlements amount to being more pro-Israel, since settlements are one of the biggest threats to Israel’s long-term (and short-term) safety and security?

  • letters in the age says:

    Dear Kevin et al,

    Get in there , eradicate the conservative idiocy of the creepy old Liberals and bust their balls!!!

    Melbourne should be a small l liberal hub not full of right wing nut jobs.

    It denigrates our city and our reputation as the most liveable city in the world.

    Dont ever forget that!!


  • Ash says:

    Real action! I can’t vote for a party with someone of Carr’s views, and Danby lacks influence, which will be compounded as Labor heads for the opposition. Kevin has my vote.

  • letters in the age says:

    Lastly Kevin…and i don’t mean to be rude but that object on your helmet looked a tad silly…

    I hope it does not end up on The Project



  • Reallity Check says:

    Are you Jewish or not? Half the world can claim to have Jewish heritage. Or as a good Liberal, you are a master at deceit.

  • Reallity Check says:

    How can you claim to be Jewish when you support making vilifying Holocaust survivors legal

  • ittayf says:

    Given that the Torah remind us 36 times, more than any other commandment, to not oppress the stranger, it is understandable that for many Jews, the treatment of asylum seekers is one of the most important issues that will determine their vote this election.

    What the coalition plans to do to asylum seekers, an item unsurprisingly omitted from Kevin’s pitch, is to deny the 30,000 asylum seekers already in Australia the right to seek asylum here. Kevin also wants to see a return to TPV’s.

    “As a former refugee, I can tell you that life under the temporary visa was hell. It’s the cruellest thing you can do to a person; deprive them of rights to education, family and travel. These visas mean everything in your life is temporary. You can’t plan your life or your children’s future. You are cut off from your family and are in constant worry about their safety. You are permanently trapped between the fear of returning to the country you fled from, and complete uncertainty here. It’s a kind of intermittent life; neither here nor there.
    Under this visa, I was barred from bringing family to join me. As a result, a member of my family was killed outside Afghanistan on the way to seek asylum. I was unable to attend his funeral because of the travel ban. There is no consolation for that guilt.” Abdul Karim Hekmat

    If you agree with the statements released by both the JCCV and RCV on this issue, you will not be supporting a return to these cruel policies.

  • letters in the age says:


    Let go of his Jewish Heritage argument…

    Kevin doesn’t have a ferocious sense of self entitlement like some of the Liberals sadly.

    The Jewish lobby will take care of the rest…

    Happy New Year to one and all!!


  • Reallity Check says:

    You mean the powerful Jewish lobby, don’t you Mrs Letters

  • Philip Mendes says:

    I find it really irritating when people who know next to nothing about Israel – whether far Left anti-Zionist fundamentalists or right-wing politicians who want to curry favour with what they believe to be hawkish on Israel Jewish voters – make nonsensical comments. Enter Kevin Ekendahl who says “The Foreign Minister, Senator Bob Carr, recently spoke on behalf of the Labor Government condemming Israeli settlements saying they were all illegal, which was a significant shift from what has always been a strong bipartisan stance in support of Israel”. Now Bob Carr may have had an opportunistic agenda of sucking up to the Muslim community in Sydney. But what he said is factual. Last week, the Israeli Professor of International Law, David Kretzmer, noted in the highly-regarded Jerusalem Report, 26 August, p.6: that the Israeli Government’s own Legal Adviser Theodor Meron confirmed shortly after the Six Day War in September 1967 that settlements in the West Bank would violate article 49(6) of the fourth Geneva Convention. According to Kretzmer, this position has always been the international consensus, and supported by all of Israel’s friends including the USA. The irony in Ekendahl’s statement of course is that the Liberal Party still claims to be a supporter of a two-state solution which would require most if not all of the West Bank settlements to be dismantled. So Ekendahl needs to quickly clear up the discrepancy between his view on settlements and the party policy. And he also needs to understand that support for Israel (which I certainly welcome) is not the same as support for specific Israeli government policies such as West Bank settlements.

  • letters in the age says:


    They will never be like the American lobby..

    Keep dreaming but a nice effort there..


  • R B says:

    Re visas for Israelis – I do not think that this has anything to do with the Labour’s position on the Middle East conflict. This is simply because the records show that too many Israeli tourists overstay and/or work without an appropriate visa. So, if you do not respect Australia’s immigration laws, why should Australia respect you?

    The Australian Jewish community should not stand for the Israelis when they do not deserve that, just because the Israelis are Jews.

  • Joe in Australia says:

    With respect, Philip, the opinion of one scholar about what an adviser said in 1967 is not good law. Things have changed on the ground since then, and in any event there are plenty of other legal scholars who say, e.g., that all settlements are inherently legal, either because they are within territory set aside for the establishment of a Jewish state; or by right of conquest; or because they have never been part of any currently recognised state. This is before we start considering the status of settlements that were built on land purchased by Jews or Jewish institutions: it is ridiculous to suggest that the residents of legitimately and peacefully purchased lands can somehow become criminals because of a political movement established fifty years later. As for Clause 49(6) of the Fourth Geneva Convention, which states that

    The Occupying Power shall not deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies.

    . I don’t believe anyone could reasonably suggest that Jews fighting for the right to live, e.g., in Hebron or Jerusalem, are being “deported or transferred” to occupied territory.

  • Mandi Katz says:

    ‘Joe in Australia’ – leaving aside that the government has built extensive infrastructure for Jewish Israelis to live beyond the Green line and provides military support to enable them to do so, you can also catch a government bus to big settlements including non contiguous ones – how is that not transfer? :)

  • Ian Grinblat says:

    AS an idealistic twenty-something in the late sixties, I too thought that the settlements were a bad idea.
    However, Israel has demonstrated its bona fides on settlements; it has forced reluctant Israelis to abandon settlements in Sinai and in Gaza as part of peace agreements. These decisions cost Israel dearly both in direct costs and in serious social disruption but Israel honoured its commitments.
    Hence I fail to understand how the settlements are a major obstacle to peace – they represent a handy excuse to refuse to enter serious negotiations, and that is all.

  • Philip Mendes says:

    Joe and Ian: you are dreaming. I just hope the Israeli Government are not dreaming too because if they are then they are going to be in for a rude shock in the coming years. Those of us who actually spend our time fighting the BDS movement are going to find it harder and harder if world opinion continues to move against Israel.

  • Joe in Australia says:

    Mandi Katz wrote:

    you can also catch a government bus to big settlements including non contiguous ones – how is that not transfer?

    I don’t think government bus services can be described as “deport[ing] or transfer[ring]” people. In any event, the fundamental problem is that this Convention does not and cannot apply to the West Bank. If you read through it you will continually come across provisions that seem strange and outlandish in this context.

    Incidentally, if Hebron is a settlement then so is Jerusalem’s Old City (including the Western Wall) and any number of roads and buildings in the area. Are they “occupied” simply because Jordanian troops drove their Jewish inhabitants out at gunpoint in 1948? Why should 19 years of Jordanian occupation be privileged over 46 years of Israeli annexure, or lengthy Jewish residence before the British mandate?

  • Mandi Katz says:

    Joe -the last para of your comment illustrates why the old city has to be the subject of negotiated peace, and why the activism of people raising money and mobilising to ‘buy out’ Arabs from the old city is so appalling.

    As to Ian’s comment – nobody here has said settlements are the key obstacle to peace. But they result in deeply unethical allocation of resources – principally land and water among residents of the West Bank (favouring Jews) and an increased and negative impact on on the rights of Palestinians living in the West Bank.

  • Ian Grinblat says:

    I can certainly understand Mandi’s comment about land and water, but I don’t understand why these very issues are not pushing the desirability of negotiations in the minds of the Palestinian leadership.

    As to Palestinian rights, given that the very idea of a Palestinian identity evolved only in the later years of the Jordanian occupation (that is in the early sixties when pan-Arabism was still in very much in vogue)and that this people of uncertain identity had no rights under Jordanian rule, that the Israeli occupation bestowed on them the (admittedly miserable)rights of people living under occupation, just what rights should Israel bestow on them?

    With whom is Israel to negotiate? In the absence of negotiations, would an Israeli withdrawal of settlers and soldiers improve the lot of the Palestinians or the Israelis? I don’t think so! I think that the terrorism would become worse and the West Bank would descend into chaos – oh, they would manage to maintain electricity, water, sewerage and the like but every householder would be his own foreign minister, his own army, etc.

    I really would like someone to explain to me how Israel may proceed – I fear that we may get out of the quagmire only to go over a cliff.

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