Opinion

OPINION: Kristina Keneally, Please Step Aside For Cultural Political Representation In Fowler

As usual, Australian political parties sacrifice cultural diversity and representation at every turn. As a former member of The Australian Labor Party (ALP), it is not only disappointing to see the party push their white privileged agenda, but they are essentially kicking out an opportunity to see appropriate representation and in an electorate where that is required.

Community activist group, Democracy in Colour is running a campaign advocating for Keneally to step aside for Tu Le, considering Fowler has a population where over 70% speak a language other than English – please click here to access it and lend your support!

WHAT HAS HAPPENED?

Senator Kristina Keneally, who is Labor’s Deputy in The Australian Senate is determined to run as the Labor candidate for the Western Sydney seat of Fowler, which is a very culturally diverse seat with a large majority coming from refugee, migrant and CALD backgrounds. The primary reason is basically to avoid faction conflicts within the party itself. Essentially, cultural diversity has been sacrificed for egos and factional conflicts.

This situation has split the party and it means Keneally plans to shift and run for a lower house seat and displace Tu Le – a Vietnamese Australian lawyer and advocate who has the backing from Chris Hayes MP ( who is retiring from politics as the member for Fowler). Here is more from The Guardian Australia:

In a statement Keneally said she would seek preselection to run in the safe Labor seat, claiming she had been touched by the “enthusiasm and support” of local members who encouraged her to run.

The decision means Keneally, who is currently Labor’s deputy Senate leader, will avert a preselection skirmish with her rightwing colleague Deborah O’Neill that could have relegated one of them to the likely unwinnable third position on the Senate ticket.

WHO IS TU LE?

Tu Le is a proud Vietnamese Australian lawyer who represents migrant workers in NSW. Currently she is the Chris Hayes backed candidate to run for the safe Labor seat of Fowler – which is known as the home to Vietnamese Australians in Sydney. The Vietnamese community makes up 23% of the entire population of the area.

Le is also the daughter of Vietnamese refugees and a youth leader at the Vietnamese Buddhist Youth Association. Le is humble about the potential displacement of her candidacy and told The Guardian Australia that this is a “missed opportunity” for cultural representation for an area which is extremely culturally diverse.

“Definitely I think there will be people that will be disappointed and feel somewhat betrayed, particularly for those that are more engaged in politics”.


Personally, seeing this happen in the Labor Party, is no surprise as the leadership of the party has no care nor concern that they no longer represent Australia and its population. I tip my head off to those who are working hard in changing the culture of the party – such as Osmond Chiu, who has been making huge pushes to see changes.

Others opposed to the move to displace Le include Chris Hayes ( current MP for Fowler), Anne Aly MP and the Health Services Union (HSU) NSW Secretary Gerard Hayes.

If you are wondering as to what the response is from the leader of the Labor Party, Anthony Albanese – pretty much the “standard words” – obviously nothing much to really care about better cultural representation.

This is why, changes pushed by those internally, like the work Chiu is doing, is extremely important and whether we are Labor supporting or not or on the fence, we need to support the drives for cultural change. It is extremely disappointing to see how party politics and factions are playing into this, sidelining candidates who would actually represent the demographics of the area. Where this is not an attack on Keneally herself, as she has done good, we all must face the facts that she DOES NOT represent the demographics of Fowler, nor does she have any understanding of the needs of the community there.

Labor, you really can do better. Kristina, please step aside!

Images via The Guardian Australia

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