ADDRESSING an issue that is not likely to come up at other Victorian election debates, The Greens candidate in Caulfield encouraged more trade with Israel. Responding to a question about whether The Greens support a global boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) campaign against the Jewish State, Philip Walker gave a visual response.
The candidate took off his shoe, showing the audience it was an Israeli-made Naot clog, adding, “best shoes in the world, I’ve got about five pairs”.
The party has come under fire for favouring a full Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank and the settlements and the dismantling of the security barrier. However, long-time Greens member Walker said the party has no explicit policy on BDS.
“There is no support for boycotts at all,” he said. “We have no endorsement of boycotts.”
He went even further: “I believe there is a lot Israel can teach Australia.
“I would be in favour of stronger trade links,” he said.
The comments were made as part of a joint Jewish Community Council of Victoria (JCCV) and Blake Street Hebrew Congregation election debate.
Labor candidate for Caulfield Heather Abramson, Liberal candidate for Caulfield David Southwick and Walker all appeared before an audience of more than 100 people on Sunday evening. They addressed issues from the closure of Hazlewood power station to supporting children with disabilities.
All three candidates committed to lobbying for a Victoria Police hate crimes unit to investigate racially-motivated incidents.
“I will be doing everything possible to get a hate crimes unit,” Southwick said, a statement that was echoed by Walker and Abramson.
There were also a few curly ethical questions asked.
The Liberal candidate said no to both same-sex marriage and euthanasia.
The Labor candidate said she was uncomfortable with the word “marriage”, but said she supports equal rights.
The Greens candidate spoke in support of euthanasia, the right to die with dignity, and added he fully agrees with same-sex marriage.