FIFTY Jewish students from around Australia gathered in Canberra last week on the Australasian Union of Jewish Students’ Political Training Seminar (AUJS PTS) for three days of political discussion and mingling with the nation’s senior politicians and leaders.
AUJS PTS is run annually and aims to provide politically engaged Jewish students with the opportunity to speak with Australia’s top decision makers.
From the Coalition, speakers included Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, Julie Bishop, Josh Frydenberg, former prime minister Tony Abbott, Senator Eric Abetz, Wyatt Roy and Senator Simon Birmingham.
“I always enjoy the opportunity to speak to [AUJS],” Bishop, who spoke to the students on a number of issues ranging from Australia’s voting history in the United Nations on Middle East resolutions to the government’s “unswerving support for Israel”, later told The AJN.
Speaking of the questions she was asked by the students during the session, Bishop commented: “As always, they were insightful, probing and reflected the great intelligence and interest of the students.”
Members of the Opposition who spoke to the student contingent at Parliament House included Anthony Albanese, Mark Dreyfus, Andrew Leigh, Michael Danby, Senator Stephen Conroy, Michelle Rowland and Senator Sam Dastyari.
AUJS PTS also welcomed Clive Palmer, Bob Katter and Senator Nick Xenophon, as well as members of the nation’s youth political movements, including national Young Labor president Ben Rillo, national Young Liberal vice-president David Howard, and National Union of Students general secretary Cameron Petrie.
AUJS executive Daniel Coppel from the Australian National University found AUJS PTS to be “incredibly enjoyable and interesting”.
“PTS allowed us to get an insight into how federal politics actually works, and how we can effect change,” he said.
Ariel Zohar, who is president of the RMIT University Student Union, described AUJS PTS as “one of a kind”.
“The level of access and opportunity it gives to young Jewish leaders to further develop their political interest and skills is unparalleled,” Zohar added.
“Who else can organise a sitting prime minister to say a friendly hello?”
AUJS national political affairs director Joshua Moses, who spearheaded the organisation of AUJS PTS this year, told The AJN he was pleased with the conference.
“To see three months of hard work come to fruition in a smoothly-run three day seminar is a testament to the support and assistance of my amazing team,” he said.
“With my political journey beginning exactly five years ago to the day in Canberra, it was indeed humbling to know that this seminar could very well provide the same opportunity and platform to many others too.”