Published On: Tue, Sep 15th, 2015

Australia’s New PM: A Progressive Who Claims Jewish Roots

Turnbull says that though he is not a member of the community, he does feel like a 'good friend', and has voiced support for Israel in the past.

malcolm_turnbull - PM Australia


MALCOLM Turnbull was sworn in as Australia’s new prime minister today (Tuesday) after defeating Tony Abbott in a leadership ballot on Monday.

The new Australian prime minister is a businessman, multi-millionaire, progressive compared to his his conservative party and popular.

Turnbull – whose electorate of Wentworth has the largest Jewish population of any electorate in NSW – said this has been a “very sobering experience”.

“I am very humbled by it. We need to have in this country, and we will have now, an economic vision, a leadership that explains the great challenges and opportunities that we face, ” Turnbull said.

“We cannot be defensive, we cannot future proof ourselves. We have to recognise that the disruption that we see driven by technology, the change is our friend if we are agile and smart enough to take advantage of it. There has never been a more exciting time to be alive than today and there has never been a more exciting time to be an Australian.

“We will ensure that all Australians understand that their Government recognises the opportunities of the future and is putting in place the policies and the plans to enable them to take advantage of it.”

In an interview with The AJN in 2013, Turnbull revealed he has Jewish roots.

“My mother always used to say that her mother’s family was Jewish, ” he said.

“I grew up in the eastern suburbs and as we all observe there were a lot of Jews in the eastern suburbs and I have always been very comfortable.

“There is no doubt that the strong traditions of family and the whole heimishe atmosphere of the Jewish community, which I’m sure some people don’t like, for me – as someone who is a good friend, but not part of it – I find very admirable.”

Last month, Turnbull spoke at the Zionist Federation of Australia’s 2015 plenary, where he reaffirmed Australia’s support for Israel.

Speaking about Australia’s “very good” relationship with Israel, he said more could be done.

“We need to collaborate more with Israel, particularly on matters of science and technology. The more we can do with Israel, the better, ” Turnbull said.

Julie Bishop, meanwhile, was re-elected as the deputy leader of the Liberal Party.

This article was first published at the Australian Jewish News (AJN)

For full coverage including communal reaction, see this week’s AJN.

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