30 May 2022
The Asian Australian Lawyers Association (AALA) celebrates the election of the following eight new culturally diverse MPs in the Australian Federal Parliament:
Cassandra Fernando (Holt)
Dai Le (Fowler)
Gordon Reid (Robertson)
Marion Scrymgour (Lingiari)
Michelle Ananda-Rajah (Higgins)
Sally Sitou (Reid)
Sam Lim (Tangney)
Zaneta Mascarenhas (Swan)
They join the re-elected Ian Goodenough (Moore) and Anne Aly (Cowan) to form the most culturally diverse House of Representatives Australia has seen.
The prospect of a more culturally diverse Senate is also promising with Senators Pat Dodson (WA), Jacqui Lambie (Tasmania), Mahreen Farugi (NSW), Malarndirri McCarthy (NT) and Lidia Thorpe (Victoria) continuing their terms, the re-election of Senator Penny Wong (SA), Afghan-Australian Fatima Payman set to win WA’s sixth Senate seat, and the recent election of the following First Nations individuals:
· Jana Stewart (Victoria Senate)
· Jacinta Price (NT Senate)
· Dorinda Cox (WA Senate)
This marks a milestone in Australia’s cultural change having had a Federal Parliament dominated by 96% of persons with a European background in the last decade.
However, despite this improvement, Australia still significantly falls behind the rest of the world with the number of Asian Australians in its Federal Parliament falling below the 15% of Asian Australians in its population.
Countries such as New Zealand and the UK have progressed far more than Australia in the last 21 years with the UK having doubled its progress rate despite starting at a similar position as Australia in 2001.
Our National President Molina Asthana welcomes greater representation of Asian Australians in the Federal Parliament. “Though this is a step in the right direction, further change is required for our Parliament to be truly representative of our demographic. The major parties need to be aware that tokenism and ignoring diverse candidates can be to their detriment” she said.
She further added that “To me what stood out in these elections was the rise of professional women in the political landscape, both as those elected and those as discernible voters. I am particularly happy to see a number of Asian Australian women who have been elected. In the future, I am hopeful we will see more Asian Australian Lawyers run for Parliament. Lawyers, in particular, make for good legislators as we understand law-making, believe in upholding the rule of law, and are connected to the communities. I would encourage more lawyers of diverse backgrounds to consider running for Local, State, and Federal elections, particularly if you have a passion for social justice” I am also hopeful that this diverse representation in Parliament would also be a catalyst for greater representation on the bench”.
What AALA is Doing to Advocate for Change
AALA has been dedicated to promoting cultural diversity since 2013 and is currently undertaking multiple projects including a National Diversity Report to highlight the issues of cultural diversity in the Australian legal profession.
By drawing attention to the lack of cultural representation in the Australian Parliament, AALA hopes to advocate for a change resulting in a Parliament that truly reflects Australia and therefore serves our diverse population better.