Mr Khan and the emperor’s clothes

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1988

Last month in an article in the Labor Herald, Cr Jieh-Yung Lo of City of Monash spoke for affirmative action to “deliver more MPs from multicultural backgrounds”. That’s one of the few opinions I have read asking for more multicultural representation in a political party.

Affirmative action or quota system need not always work. But the Labor Party is the only party in Australia that has used affirmative action to boost the number of women in the parliament and it has had results without doubt. The party is largely influenced by factional politics to determine seat allocations but still affirmative action has seen positive results. Cr Jieh-Yung Lo’s idea of affirmative action for multicultural communities to boost their numbers in the Parliament is definitely something that we need to support and more voices should emerge since he has taken the initiative.

What I don’t understand is why Indian representatives in the Labor party are not raising this issue openly and publicly and demanding for the same action or some policy that can have more diversity in the Party and the Parliaments. Do they feel that it’s too risky to raise this topic as they may get purged from the Party?

How hard is it to stand up and say that the Labor Party is not doing enough to represent Australia’s ethnic groups. Platforms like Friends of Labor should be used to discuss and debate these issues and have strategies in place to boost the cause of more representation. These organisations should not be turned into networking groups with no vision.

We expect more from Manoj Kumar, Aloke Kumar and Cr Intaaj Khan to raise lack of diversity in the Labor Party. Apart from Harish Velji in NSW who has raised this issue, no one has openly come out criticising or highlighting lack of diversity. At least I have not heard or read statements from Victoria’s Indian Labor members publicly. We need representation in the parliament, in the Police, in the media. Or are we divided on this issue too?

I will not be surprised if the Liberal Party is the first political party that fields an Indian candidate from a safe seat first. This was Abbott’s wish and, while addressing the multicultural media when he was in Opposition, he spoke of his wish to have more ethnic minorities in Parliament. Whether Liberals will follow through on this“wish”, one needs to wait and watch in the next federal elections.

But with regards to the Labor Party they need to take a fresh look at their image and stand on multiculturalism. Mere lip service is not going to work anymore. So like the little boy in the story of the Emperor’s New Clothes, one of Labor’s Indian members should stand up and tell the Emperor (Read the Labor party) its flaws. Intaaj Khan would do a great favour to the community if he advocates for more diversity in the Labor Party. Mr Khan, stand up and be the Little Boy to expose the Emperor.

The following line from Cr Jieh-Yung Lo’s article sums it all up for the Labor Party:

The Labor Party’s commitment to multiculturalism can be enhanced by introducing affirmative action targets to deliver more MPs from multicultural backgrounds. In addition, the party needs to develop engagement strategies and recruitment campaigns to increase the number of multicultural Australians joining and contributing to the development of the Labor Party. Only then will the Labor Party become an institution that truly represents Australians from all backgrounds.

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