South Asians are yet to gain entry into the Australian parliament. It’s time things changed
Federal Election 2013 has drawn to a close. This election was quite a landmark for the various minority communities in Australia. Migrant communities have been slow to take their place at the table when it comes to politics. However, this election has proven to be a turning point. The Liberal Party was most generous with its seats for minority communities with six candidates. However, the Greens, Liberals and even the Palmer United Party fielded candidates of Indian background.
If pre-selection to a seat is the first step, the second step is getting pre-selection to a safe, or at the very least, a marginal seat. Alex Bhathal from the Greens had a strong chance in Batman compared to the other campaigns.
It’s time for the community to withdraw and take a good look at how it can further its position within the various parties and make a more meaningful contribution to the political scene. It is truly a sign of successful integration if we are part and parcel of the political landscape of the country.
One thing that we should keep in mind is that nothing is to be given for free, or to be taken for granted. We need to fight the good fight and learn how to do it right.
Fazal Cadar who ran on the Liberal ticket from Hotham was recovering from the campaign and taking his mother out to lunch when we spoke to him. “We had a significant swing to the Liberal Party. Much more than expected. But the counting is not over yet (Sunday morning) and we won’t know for sure till Tuesday. It seems unlikely that I will win but we have taken a safe Labor seat to a marginal one. It’s only a matter of one more election before it’s a Liberal seat,” he said.
Alex Bhathal who ran on the Green ticket from Batman ran a good fight and was expecting a swing of around 8 per cent to win. Her upbeat mood during the campaign seems to have worked to move some but not enough to win. Most commentators are predicting Labor is going to hold the seat with 44 out of 48 booths counted.
Manoj Kumar’s pre-selection on a Labor ticket in Menzies was quite an important move this election as he is the only Indian running on a Labor ticket. However, the swing that he needed did not materialise. Manoj’s team put up a dedicated and determined front getting the community to back him for an election battle that looked hard from the very start.
Ricardo Balancy ran on a Liberal ticket from Holt and managed a swing of 3.1 per cent towards the Liberals. Again, this is a sign of the election trend but Holt is a Labor stronghold and Ricardo managed to get a fairly sizeable portion of the primary vote as well.
Shilpa Hegde who ran on the Liberal ticket from Wills managed to make a dent with a swing of a little over 2 per cent after preferences. This is very decent considering that Wills is one of the safest seats for Labor.
Nihal Samara had a tough brief of running on a Liberal ticket from one of the safest Labor seats in the country. His fight probably got a little easier once Julia Gillard was removed, and again when various Labor factions proposed a number of candidates. It’s also safe to assume that South Asian votes in Lalor rallied behind Samara giving him a decent swing, although it was nowhere close to a victory.