Federal elections: What does the community want?

By Our Reporter
Clockwise left to right: Elvis Martin, Narinder Parmar, Pritom Dutta, Prof Jaya Dantas, Ranabir Ghose, Veena Gandhi, Tarun Bhattacharya, Shomik Sengupta, Sarmita Gupta, Sangeetha Singh

The Indian Sun speaks to some members of the community on what they want from this federal election. Read on.

Elvis Martin

ELVIS MARTIN, Expert Advisory Panel Member of Safe and Equal,the peak body for specialist family violence services that provide support to victim survivors in Victoria

I would like to see politicians debate and talk about issues that affect every day Australians rather than focusing on Gotcha questions of media. I understand the unemployment rate is at its lowest, but let’s not forget those young people who got jobs but don’t have enough hours of employment to survive.

Veena Gandhi

VEENA GANDHI, founder of digital marketing agency, Digital Street AU

The last two years have been really tough for small businesses in terms of supply chain issues, staff shortages, etc. Unfortunately, the rising prices and costs are not helping either. As a small business owner, I am looking for more stability. Secondly, the killing taxes are not helping either. The biggest expectation is to have better tax benefits for small business owners.

Also recently around 559 million dollars of funding has been cut from public education over the next three years while the funding for private schools has been increased. This somewhat seems unfair. Public schools in any case need better infrastructure and cutting funding from them will impact. So public schools funding should be looked into.

Prof Jaya Dantas

PROF JAYA A R DANTAS, currently Deputy Chair of the Curtin Academic Board, Professor in the School of Population Health and Dean International in the Faculty of Health Sciences

COVID-19 has had a significant impact on health and well-being in Australia, it is vital that during this election the main parties take into account public, preventative and community health. The last few years, even before the pandemic, have highlighted a health system in crisis—the hospital system, the Indigenous health system, the aged and disability care system and the mental health system. There needs to be significant investment in health and well-being of the population. We also need reform so that there is investment in health and medical research to meet future health challenges.

Strong policies and investment is needed to address the national crises of gender-based violence and women’s safety both in personal and professional spaces. Will there be funding for essential services to help women care for their families and children like childcare and parental leave? There needs to be investment and commitments to reduce the gender pay gap.

One of the key election issues is to support people experiencing poverty and disadvantage and this is possible by raising the rate of Jobseeker, Youth Allowance, and other income support payments and supporting single parents and people with disability.

From a refugee policy perspective, we need to stop off-shore detention, re-instate our humanitarian quotas that were set in 2019 and abolish the Temporary Protection Visa scheme so that refugees can lead fulfilling lives.

The skilled migration intake needs to increase to meet the demands of workforce shortages in health, tourism, the care industry, hospitality and farm-work.

Shomik Sengupta

SHOMIK SENGUPTA, practicing medical specialist (urologist) & university professor

Above all else I think what the community wants from this election is policies that will improve equity: social equity, economic equity, cultural equity, climate equity.

Tarun Bhattacharya

TARUN BHATTACHARYA, engineering professional and a marriage celebrant

I would like to see a strong resilient truthful honest leader who can guide the communities through unforeseen emergencies (like Covid) and promote racial harmony in multicultural Australia. New leader(s) need strong credibility to gain trust and be role models to Australian youth.

The first generation Indian migrants are aging. Most arrived in their late youth in Australia and hence not been in the work stream for long. As a result, the majority do not have large superannuation reserves. They need adequate aged care to acknowledge their contribution to cultural diversity in Australian society. The community could not afford building Community Centres for Indians due to paucity of funds. The new Leader could support the Indian community with funding for building such infrastructure.

Sarmita Gupta

SARMITA GUPTA, school teacher

As a teacher who has been in the government sector, I would like a better deal for public schools than what has been meted out in the past. The cut in budget to public schools has and will result in the lack of resources for funding quality teaching and learning. I would like to see a reduction in face-to-face teaching time to allow time for planning and time-in-lieu arrangements for out of hours work for teachers to improve work life balance. More support to students is also required in schools particularly keeping in mind the difficulties faced during the pandemic.

Ranabir Ghose

RANABIR GHOSE, Manufacturing and Projects Manager

From my perspective the community wants:

  • Good fiscal performance—spend our tax dollars wisely and reduce debt
  • Retain investment benefits for common mums and dads like us—negative gearing, franking credits etc.
  • Lead post Covid rapid recovery
  • Provide a stable government
  • Provide massive focus to sovereign manufacturing capability and capacity in all sectors
Pritom Dutta

PRITOM DUTTA, software consultant

Being in an industry where a significant share of workforce is comprising of skilled migrants, we need resilient immigration policy for a faster, smoother and consistent supply of skills, which we are lacking due to pandemic situation. Also, more vocational pathway for young Australians to meet market skill demand locally in future.

Sangeetha Singh

SANGEETHA SINGH, Melbourne-based model & actor

In keeping with all that has happened around us since the pandemic and focussing the imperative on strengthening the Australian economy, what I want from the federal elections include:

  • A strong program to support people returning to the workforce (especially those who have had to suffer a career break or have had to deal with illness—either physical or mental)
  • Affordable childcare access by reducing the barrier to entry on cost, for single parents & new immigrants to the country alike
  • Supporting home-based business start-ups by providing awareness on grants & allowing for investment-friendly policies.
Narinder Parmar

NARINDER PARMAR, schoolteacher and author of CHINT SINGH: The Man Who Should Have Died

I would like a memorial to be erected in Canberra to honour Indian soldiers who fell in the line of duty during WW2 in Papua New Guinea and as a symbol of friendship forged by the Indian soldiers after the war with Australians. Chint Singh, one of the survivors of 3000 Indian POWs, was invited to sign the Japanese surrender flag, displayed in AWM, Canberra. In 1970 he was invited by RSL national branch to PNG and Australia to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the Japanese surrender. In 1971 a memorial was built in PNG, then an Australian territory, by RSL Australia. That memorial was washed away during the floods in the Sepik River. These are the testaments of the respect Australian had towards Indian soldiers and the bond they established.

It will become a monument that will not only make Australians aware of the sacrifices made by Indian soldiers in WW2 but also help the ever-growing Indian diaspora feel a connection with the history of the land they now call home. In 2020, according to ABS Indian population in Australia increased by 11 per cent compared to 2018.

Although those soldiers were not Australian citizens but they did represent the same core values that bond Australia and India. These core values have brought both nations much closer in recent times, for example, members of QUAD, formed a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership and free trade agreement. It can be like the Neuve-Chapelle Indian Memorial, built in 2018 at Villers Guislian, France, to honour thousands of Indian soldiers died in WW1.

This monument can be a perfect gift by the Australian government to the people of India for its 75th Year of Independence of India.

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