The hopes and expectations in the Indian community are at an all-time high as Tony Abbott takes office in Canberra. The support the Liberal Party received across the country from the Indian community was definitely overwhelming.
However, with a Senate controlled by eight not very well-known independents—some of them with no track record—Abbott and his team will have to negotiate most government Bills to be passed. With a hung parliament in the Senate, governing for Abbott is not going to be a cake-walk.
There are many pressing global issues and flash-points that can put to test Abbott’s abilities as a world leader, even in a matter of weeks. With the Obama administration preparing to attack Syria in weeks, as a staunch ally of the United States, there’s a huge chance that Australia will get sucked into another conflict. Anti-war groups will soon hit the streets and it will once again feel like the John Howard years. If this war is long drawn, rising petrol prices during Christmas time will surely become a problem for the new government and for all of us.
For Labor, the results were no surprise—barring Sydney’s West. Labor saw a moderately better performance in NSW and Queensland. Most people expected a complete wipe-out in NSW. Labor held on to many western Sydney seats it feared it would lose. Labor even got a positive swing in Greenway, a marginal NSW seat. This could probably be attributed to the media campaign against Liberal candidate Jaymes Diaz following his gaffe during a TV interview.
From our point of view, Labor has to rethink its strategy vis-à-vis the Indian community. It’s regrettable when outspoken members in our community create the impression that we are all Liberal supporters. The Indian community is not homogeneous; our interests are not the same. We have white and blue collar workers and business owners among us. Labor should make a serious attempt to reach out by working closely with the Indian community. This is an opportunity and a need of the hour. Manoj Kumar did a great job in Menzies by rallying the community behind him. But he and other Labor members need to relay the community’s sentiments more effectively to the party—next time, in the coming Victorian elections, Labor should position an Indian candidate from a safe seat. This will lift Labor’s image and garner more support.
From the community’s point of view there are two aspects that need to be underlined. First, the Indian has now become a force to reckon with. We saw a number of candidates contesting the elections this time. However, all of them were in losing seats. But this definitely came as a great experience to the candidates and voters. Second, the mainstream media in India totally ignored these elections and the community’s involvement. Despite having over 15 candidates participating in these elections, we hardly saw any reports in the media there. These elections were a positive story for us. Especially after all the reports on student attacks that tarnished Australia’s image in India a few years ago. It was vital for this story to be heard in India. We must do our best to ensure action on both these fronts next time around.