Jews elected to new Australian parliament

SYDNEY, Australia (JTA) – Three Jews were elected to Australia’s federal parliament in national elections.

Michael Danby, Mark Dreyfus and Joshua Frydenberg — all from Melbourne — emerged victorious in Saturday’s ballot. But neither the incumbent Labor Party nor the opposition Liberal Party managed to muster the 76 seats required for an outright majority in the 150-seat House of Representatives, prompting the probability of the first hung parliament in 70 years. Early voting and mail-in votes could yet prove pivotal, according to observers.

Danby, a Labor lawmaker who has been Israel’s most ardent advocate in parliament, served as the only Jewish federal lawmaker between 1996 and 2007, when Dreyfus was first elected, also to Labor.

Frydenberg, a graduate of Bialik College in Melbourne and a former adviser to Liberal lawmaker and one-time prime minister John Howard, on Saturday became the first Jewish Liberal representative in Canberra since Sen. Peter Baume in 1991.

Robert Goot, president of the Executive Council of Australian Jewry, said it was “very encouraging” to have three Jewish federal lawmakers. From 1974-75 there were four Jews in federal parliament.

The election also produced several firsts: Dr. Ken Wyatt is likely to become the first Aboriginal member elected to the lower house; Adam Bandt became the first Greens lawmaker elected to the lower house, and Ed Husic became the first Muslim lawmaker ever elected.

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