The Federal election campaign, with over a month to go, has hardly been one of great excitement. One thing that is obvious is that the level of detail (ie developed policy) is far less than what is normally available to share with the voters. Half baked ideas and policy on the run is the the way campaigns work these days.
One of the issues that has an impact on Jewish living is that of domestic security. Sadly, all of our institutions require additional security, including a large investment of peoples time in order to be proactive about the very real threat that faces us. As an identifiable Jew, quite often as I walk down the street, spineless idiots will yell profanities out of a car window. Each year hundreds of theats and anti-semitic incidents are logged. In the past few months many Jews have been physically assaulted in the street. People are often shocked to know that Jewish facilities in Australia, including here in Perth, require security, and that no public events are held without a coordinated effort to secure the premises and monitor entry.
The general environment is not alarmist, but the practical and necessary arrangements put in place by Jewish community groups are, to say the least, a sad indictment on the society in which we live.
We have already mentioned that both political parties have pledged support for upgrading security in Jewish schools. This is a welcome measure. However it would be nice if the political agenda included measures to stamp out security threats at their source. Resourcing police, and strengthening penalites for anti-racisit and anti-vilification laws are policy level platforms by which this can be acheived.
Security is a broad issue that impacts every voter. Australia is a comparitely safe society. Generally, people in this country do not walk through the streets in fear, and do not have to tolerate uncontainable levels of crime. However, there are examples of the inconsistent application of justice, and too much latitide directed towards the growing level of organised crime. This needs action and leadership. Where are the new ideas, and what sort of committment will we get here in Perth towards better security, not just in the form of fences and funding, but in the form of building community standards, expectations, and promoting better tolerance?