By MINYUE DING
Asher Judah grew up and lives in Bentleigh with his wife Mary and their three girls. He spent almost all the big moments in his life here, so he believes he is well suited to represent the community.
Mr Judah took an interest in politics when he was 12 and joined the Liberal Party at 17. When he was studying at Deakin University, he joined the Liberal Club and wrote for the Deakin University magazine.
“I’ve been very political for over 20 years,” he said.
The community’s safety was his top priority. He said Crime Statistics Agency figures showed criminal offences in the area had grown by 70 per cent in the past four years, and that the category "crimes against the person" had increased by 77 per cent*.
Mr Judah said he had done a lot of surveys through door knocking, talking to people in the street and by phone. He said he was confident safety was the issue that residents worried about the most.
He believes the increase in criminal offences is due to police cuts.
“The State Government cut police [funding] in 2015, and less visibility for police means more opportunities for crime,” he said.
The Liberal Party has made the After Dark Safety Plan and the Safe City Cameras Program centerpieces of the Bentleigh campaign. The Oakleigh candidate used drug dealing as an example to explain the CCTV camera project.
Mr Judah said drug dealing was regular and unpredictable in Bentleigh and shop owners badly wanted these cameras to prevent thefts.
“This is their businesses and I want to protect them,” he said.
The cameras would only be used for identifying criminals and residents’ privacy would be respected, he said. The CCTV videos “won’t be available online” and “will be with the appropriate authorities, with proper safeguards in place”, he said.
“In addition to our $400,000 CCTV program, we’ve got $350,000 for lighting, which will add lights on different streets and carparks around Bentleigh.” The lights would be added to priority dark spots including streets, public parks, and carparks.
MrJudah said this would offer residents “a sense of confidence” when they were outside at night.
“That is a problem for late-night workers, shoppers, it’s a problem for joggers in the morning and in the evening and the lighting will improve their safety,” he said.
Mr Judah said he was concerned about the long-term development of Australia. His view is that big cities such as Sydney and Melbourne had an issue with overpopulation, but he strongly denied this was caused by too many immigrants and pointed out that his mother is a German migrant and his father was born in India.
However, he said Australia should slow down the pace of immigration and build more infrastructure.
“I’m not saying less people, but if you want to have high immigration rates you need to match it with the management component of society,” he said.
Mr Judah said the Liberal Party supported reforms to the disclosure of political donations so the rules meet community expectations. But the community needed to recognise that donations were part of the political system and allowed people to support the values of day, he said.
* UniPollWatch fact-checked Mr Judah’s claim that CSA figures showed a large increase in crime in Bentleigh over the past four years. The figures are correct for Bentleigh as a suburb. However, the Bentleigh electorate includes the suburbs of Bentleigh East, Hampton East, McKinnon, Moorabbin and Ormond, and in some of these postcodes the increase in recorded crimes is significantly less and in some cases it is stagnant.
The CSA figures for the "recorded offences" numbers for the above suburbs showed a 23 per cent increase in the total number of crimes between 2014 and 2018 (end of June) for the electorate as a whole; "crimes against the person" increased by 26 per cent in the electorate.
Mr Judah was contacted and and declined to comment.
For more on the Victorian election: http://junctionjournalism.com/2018/10/10/unipollwatch-victoria-2018/.