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Julian Leeser - President's Message 02/09

01/09/16 22:14:57


South Head will have the great pleasure of welcoming Julian Leeser as guest speaker at our Friday night Shabbos service on September 16th. Julian was recently elected as the Member of Parliament for the Federal seal of Berowra. He is the first Jewish member in the House of Representatives from the Liberal Party in New South Wales.

I have known Julian almost all of his life. His younger brother, Lindsay, and my older son, Adam, started school at Cranbrook together and have been best friends ever since. When other children when asked what they wanted to do when they grew up said that they wanted to be an astronaut or fireman or doctor, Julian always knew that he wanted to be Australia’s first Jewish prime minister. He is recognised as a person of great talent and potential: several months ago in his column in The Australian, Peter Reith cited Julian as someone who could go straight into a ministerial position.

In early August I attended a special ceremony to affix a mezuzah to the doorpost of Julian’s electoral office in Pennant Hills. Rabbi Roni Cohavi of Parramatta & District Synagogue, where Julian is a member and on the board, officiated; many other religious leaders came too. Julian served as chair of executive of the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies and as chair of its Community Relations Committee. He was also a Councillor of the Executive Council of Australian Jewry. He was appointed by both the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies and the Catholic Archbishop of Sydney to serve as a member of the Organising Committee for the 50th Anniversary celebrations of Nostra Aetate (1965 declaration by Pope Paul VI after the Second Vatican Council).

I asked Julian to provide some biographical information. Here it is:

Julian was born and raised in Sydney and lives in Pennant Hills with his wife Joanna.

Julian has degrees in arts and law from the University of NSW and is a Graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors. He spent 2006-2007 as a Visiting Fellow at the Taubman Centre at the John F Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.

Prior to his election as Member for Berowra in 2016, Julian was a senior executive at Australian Catholic University. He served on several boards including Mercy Health, one of Australia’s largest private health organisations, Teach for Australia which places outstanding graduates in tough schools to improve school performance, and Playwriting Australia which develops Australia’s next generation of playwrights. Julian was previously Executive Director of the Menzies Research Centre. He also worked as a lawyer at Mallesons Stephen Jacques (now King & Wood Mallesons) and was an associate to High Court Justice Ian Callinan.

Serving the community through elected office has been a life-long passion for Julian. He was the youngest councillor in Australia when he was elected to Woollahra Council at age 19. Julian was also an elected delegate to the Constitutional Convention in 1998 as part of the No-Republic ACM team.

Julian is passionate about the Australian Constitution and proud of its link to the electorate of Berowra. In 1891, a group including Australia’s first Prime Minister, Sir Edmund Barton and the first Chief Justice of the High Court Sir Samuel Griffith, took the steamer Lucinda up the Hawkesbury and completed the first draft of the Australian Constitution.

Julian is person of faith and is committed to a strong diverse Australia. Julian is the first Jewish person elected to the House of Representatives from New South Wales for the Liberal Party.

Julian has co-authored or edited a series of publications including, An Australian Declaration of Recognition (2016), State of the Nation (2013), Don’t Leave Us with the Bill: The Case Against an Australian Bill of Rights (2009) and State Policy Perspectives (2006).

Julian and Joanna have been actively involved in the Berowra community through the Hornsby Hospital Community Participation Committee, the Beecroft-Cheltenham Lions Club the Cherrybrook Chinese Community Association and Lifeline.

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