This week Australian Parliament sits for the first time since the election in May, and not only is there a change of Government and Prime Minister, but it is also the most culturally diverse Parliament we have seen to date. According to The Guardian:
Though 23% of Australians claim a non-European ancestry, just 6.6% – or 15 out of the 227 MPs – have overseas non-European backgrounds. Only 4.4% of MPs in the parliament have Asian heritage, compared with 18% of the Australian population at large.
4.4% is only a small portion comparatively to the Asian population in Australia. If you add both the House of Representatives and the Senate numbers there should be 227 Parliamentarians. 4.4% only represents 10 Parliamentarians of Asian background, which is more than double from the 2019 election but is not equivalent or surpassing the rapid population growth of Asians in Australia.
One of the 10 newly elected MPs is Sally Sitou who represents the electorate of Reid in Sydney. Sitou is a child of refugee parents and comes from a Laos Chinese background. Upon officially starting her career as a politician she has provided some reflections in her upcoming maiden speech about the vibrancy and the sea of colour in the 47th Australian Parliament (via Sydney Morning Herald):
“As I look around our House of Representatives today, it feels like finally it is starting to live up to its name,”
“A house made up of people who truly represent and reflect their communities.”
“It was a path that said there was no place in this country for people like me,” she will say.
“Those decisions were made based on fear and a failure of imagination. But we were able to fulfil the potential and promise of Australia, when leaders in this place were not driven by fear but by hope and compassion.”
Growing up in Cabramatta which is in Sydney’s Western Sydney, Sitou shares some of her reflections about her parents who came to Australia as refugees from Laos escaping from conflict and working hard in factories to provide for her and her brother (via Sydney Morning Herald):
“Being elected into our federal parliament is a big deal, but it’s an even bigger deal for my parents.
“They fled their homeland, fearful of what might happen to them because of who they were and the values they held. Even after arriving here, they continued to carry that fear, not wanting to talk about politics or share their views.”
We will post when she and other newly elected Parliamentarians make their maiden speech, so stay tuned!
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