Mr SOUTHWICK (Caulfield) (13:35:36) — As a proud member of the Jewish community and representative of a seat that has one of the largest Jewish communities in Australia, I welcome any announcement about advancing relationships between Victoria and Israel. I am also proud that the Victorian Liberal Party is prepared to stand up for Israel and recognise Jerusalem as its capital where many others duck for cover. The policy announcement by the Leader of the Opposition to open a business office in Jerusalem to promote business innovation and collaboration with Israel is a great announcement for many reasons. Jerusalem is fast becoming its own start-up powerhouse. Mayor Nir Bakat built an innovation ecosystem, particularly with the establishment of the high-tech industrial park Har Hotzvim, attracting companies like Intel, Cisco and Novartis pharmaceuticals to name a few. The Hebrew University of Jerusalem’s commercialisation research centre includes Yissum, which has spun off many successful start-ups including Mobileye.
Victoria would have a unique first-mover advantage as one of the first jurisdictions globally to locate a trade office in Jerusalem should we win the election next year. The Australian government already has a strong presence in Tel Aviv with the Landing Pad. A Victorian trade office in Jerusalem would operate as a satellite office to build on trade opportunities for Victorian businesses. Jerusalem is where the Israeli Parliament and government offices are located, and we respect the right of Israel to determine its own capital. We believe that the Leader of the Opposition’s plan for a trade office in Jerusalem will get great results for businesses in Victoria and enable collaboration with one of the most successful start-up nations in the world.