#ASIANAUSPOL is part of a longer term collaborative project between BEING ASIAN AUSTRALIAN and the ASIAN AUSTRALIAN ALLIANCE to identify, showcase, discuss, and encourage Asian/Asian Australians who are running as a candidate or who are already there for Federal, State and Local elections. For more information on #ASINAUSPOL, please go to http://www.asianauspol.net or click here!
Apurva Shukla is a 22 year old Asian Australian who is running as a Greens candidate for Werriwa (South Western Sydney suburbs) for the upcoming Federal Election. Having only recently graduated from university, and starting his career in IT, Apurva is now taking the plunge into politics and wants the traditional Labor seat of Werriwa voters to consider all its options and alternatives. Apurva was born in India and immigrated to Australia with his family when he was a baby ( 1 years old). Apurva discusses how his parents came to Australia to raise a family with the hopes and aspirations of a better future than what they had back home in India, and how this was the reason for him joining the Greens.
I share these ideas – these hopes and aspirations. I think I realised growing up these hopes and aspirations started to get shaken by all the things I saw around me. My everyday life as an Indian Australian has been great but like many other First Nations and coloured communities it has been one filled with racism and a lack of faces which look like mine in politics. I also see that we have a housing affordability crisis, university student debt and a lack of young Australians being able to have a say at the decision making table.
I think the real thing which tied the knot into why I joined the Greens was the inaction of climate change and the lack of action with the climate emergency. No other party is doing anything or has plans to do much asides from the Greens. I was in a place where I was feeling frustrated and so I think I have what is called as climate anxiety. I also realised the Greens are not as far left as most people think and like myself, I would urge everyone to read their policies and see that what the Greens stand for is what all of us want politics to stand for.
Just starting out in the workforce, Apurva’s interest and passion for politics have now come to fruition in that he is a candidate and is working hard with others to build up and mobilise the Greens movement in South Western Sydney. But why is he starting out so young, and will voters of Werriwa see through his youth instead of wondering whether he has enough work and life experiences?
So, a lot of people ask and behave incredulously, when the Greens say that they are supporting under 25s to be sent to Parliament. The reality is, younger Australians have have unique sets of challenges, and to be able to alleviate these challenges there needs to be those in Parliament from younger to older generations. This policy of the Greens supporting under 25s is radically different from what the Labor Party and the Liberal Party are sating and offering.
Part of the reason for these differences is that the major parties accept corporate donations and so they will talk based on where their corporate donation is coming from. There is also a huge generational divide, and I think a lot of older people don’t realise and are scared when they see a younger person running as a candidate because they expect a candidate to come with a certain amount of life experiences and confirm to what the populous is saying. One must remember that it was teenagers and school age kids which put the urgency for climate action because the climate emergency threatens our way of life and it will be people my age and younger who will have to clean up the place if we don’t take action.
Joining the Greens and being active in the movement is not traditionally seen as a party Asian Australians would choose to join. Of course the tides are changing and with the general dissatisfaction with the 2 major parties permeating in the community. This time is one of the best opportunities for the Greens to capitalise and make their party more appealing to the Asian Australian community. But let’s take the opinion of this from Apurva who is both young, Asian and in the Greens;
If you think about it, some of the primary concerns consistent across our Asian Australian communities is social inequality, racial inequality and economic inequalities. All of these things are linked to mitigating climate change. The Greens have policies on all that I have mentioned above and policies which affect all everyday Australians. We are not just a party which prioritises climate and the environment, and we are getting more support from Asian Australians who see that at the core we believe in equality for all, rely on citizens power and not huge corporate donations and that we operate as a grassroots democracy.
The reality is, Australia is a rich country, and we have more than enough money to pour into improving essential services, make education free for all and solve the housing affordability crisis – all of this is what Greens policies are based upon, and I know these are the issues important to our Asian Australian communities.
Asian faces are seldom seen in Australian politics and the current state of politics doesn’t reflect the demographics of the Australian population. How does Apurva see this and how does he plan to take the Greens to contribute to the change of pushing for more cultural diversity;
One of the biggest reasons I aligned with the Greens is because they have a major policy to build an anti-racist Australia. You are absolutely right, that there is basically no representation of Asian Australians or very little in politics on all levels. This is an absolute shame considering nearly 50% of all Aussies were either born overseas or have parents born overseas. In Werriwa, the demographics are even higher. I was doing research and in Werriwa around 65% of the population have both parents born overseas and 20% have at least 1 parents born in Australia. The people who have represented Werriwa in Australian Parliament over the past 20-30 years have been white and have all predominantly passed the age of 40, so in looking at that it is not representative of the electorate.
The Greens really want to push for an anti-racist Australia and for starters removing section 44 is one of the biggest things we can do, which for those who don’t know what it is, it is the section which bans all dual citizens to be involved in politics. The Greens celebrate diversity and know that only by having diversity, does the party and the country have strength. It is time for change and time we look at who is representing us. If you are Asian put your hand up and run so we can all contribute to the change.
Finally, what does Apurva want to say to all Australians and to the voters of Werriwa?
One of the biggest reasons to run right now is to change what our democracy looks like. Right now, we are not a real democracy because there is so much money in politics. Whether it is corporate donations, lobbying, lack of media diversity with Murdoch media controlling so many media outlets, no federal ICAC or an anti-corruption commission, Australia has been lost in being the democracy many Australians want. Because of this control, no one is asking the Government MPs for answers and I think this is what a lot of Aussie voters are waking up to.
I am proud that the Greens do not take corporate donations and want to enable a federal ICAC for this current Government to pay for all the crimes they have committed. I am tired, and many Australians are tired of the current state of politics. Talk to people in Lismore and in Sydney’s south west who have suffered through the massive floods with little support from the federal Government. Many of of us are still hurting now even though the media has moved onto the next big thing. The weather issues will only continue to get worse unless we seriously address the climate emergency.
Interested in following and knowing more about Apurva? Here are all her social media handles:
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Images provided and from Apurva Shukla – Greens Federal Candidate for Werriwa Facebook page