SYDNEY, Australia – The sole Jewish member of the new Australian government was appointed to a junior minister position.
Joshua Frydenberg was promoted to parliamentary secretary to the prime minister on Monday by the newly elected Prime Minister Tony Abbott.
Abbott’s Liberal Party won the Sept. 7 election in a landslide over the Labor Party, ending its six-year term in office during which relations with Israel were strained.
“I am honored to serve in the Abbott Government and conscious of the responsibilities and hard work that lies ahead,” Frydenberg told JTA.
A graduate of Bialik and Mount Scopus colleges in Melbourne, Frydenberg, 42, has a master’s degree from Oxford and another from Harvard.
He was first elected to federal parliament in 2010 and in his maiden speech recalled the story of his grandparents’ escape to Australia from Nazi-controlled Europe.
Since then he has been a rising star of the Liberal Party, according to Greg Sheridan, foreign editor of The Australian newspaper.
“Frydenberg has a good pedigree, having worked at length for Alexander Downer when he was foreign minister, then for John Howard, whom he advised on security issues,” Sheridan wrote on Tuesday. “Howard has the highest opinion possible of Frydenberg.”
Sheridan added: “Don’t be fooled by the seemingly modest nature of his promotion: the emergence from the chrysalis of parliamentary secretary to the butterfly of cabinet minister can be very fast.”
Frydenberg was mentored by the late Sir Zelman Cowen, the second Jew ever to be appointed Governor-General, Australia’s head of state.
“Tomorrow at the swearing-in service with the Governor-General, I will be using a Bible given to me by Sir Zelman Cowen, which he was sworn in on as Governor-General,” Frydenberg said.
He added he would have specific responsibility for economic deregulation including the cutting of $1 billion a year of red and green (environmental) tape.