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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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