The parachuting of Senator Kristina Keneally into the seat of Fowler over locally supported candidate, lawyer Tu Le, has become an absolute debacle. Outgoing Member for Fowler, Chris Hayes has put his support fully behind Tu Le – who is a local and representative of the community in Fowler. However, NSW Labor has other plans.
The internal conflicts within the party, has made the NSW branch of the Labor party to have Keneally run for a lower house seat – and that seat chosen happens to be the safe seat of Fowler. Keep in mind, Fowler is around 23% Vietnamese population and over 70% of the population speak a language other than English. This is why Le, who is a lawyer who works and advocates for Migrant rights in NSW, who is the President for the local Buddhist Youth group and the daughter of Vietnamese refugees is the right person for the electorate. Le, has been interviewed by the media since the debacle happened, but just a few days ago she penned a post talking about her feelings on what has transpired, talking about her life growing up as a Vietnamese Australian in Fowler and how “The people of Fowler deserve to be represented and heard” – here is a few quotes from her post:
“Education was my ticket to freedom. Freedom from poverty, freedom of opportunity. I could be who I wanted to be and give back to the country that gave us so much when we left everything behind us in Vietnam. Naturally, I became a lawyer. I wasn’t a fan of blood.”
“Earlier this year, I expressed my intention of nominating for pre-selection for the federal seat of Fowler. As a young woman of colour, it was one of the most challenging things I have ever done in my life.”
“Will I be good enough? Will people support me? Will I survive the political and personal attacks? Will my identity be used against me? I constantly asked myself the questions I knew others were thinking. It is clear as day my ambition as a candidate for Fowler was greatly helped by the outgoing member – an older, white male. It is not lost on me that without Chris Hayes’ support and guidance, I will not be in this position.”
“Fowler is my community. It is my home.”
“The people of Fowler deserve to be represented and heard. We deserve someone who truly understands the local area.”
You can read the full post by Le here on her Facebook page.
Since the debacle, Labor leader Anthony Albanese has spoken about the situation and has told Le “not to be discouraged by this seat swap”…. (via ABC News):
“Mr Albanese said politics could be a “competitive environment” and in a conversation with Ms Le, he urged her not to be deterred because she has a “bright future ahead of her”.
“I think Tu Le is an outstanding Australian and she has a great commitment to the country and to political change,”
In a press conference, Albanese has also stated that Keneally being a former migrant from the USA is an example of the “migrant success story” – yeps he actually said that… definitely out of touch.
Labor MPs such as Peter Khalil and Anne Aly – who are both Egyptian background have spoken about the need for the Labor party to put cultural representation as a priority. NSW Labor will also consider a motion on diversity in its ranks at their conference in October.
At the end of the day, this issue of cultural representation is more than just the Labor party and it is a widespread issue in Australia’s political system. This needs to be addressed and nipped on the butt from the core and foundations and as culturally diverse communities in Australia, we must continue to speak up on this whether we are or are not involved in the political party system.
More on this to come I am sure…
Images via Tu Le Facebook page and The Guardian