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Crikey says: Australia Day, indeed

The Peris parachute has pollies in a lather: Crikey got views from Canberra and Darwin. Stephen Mayne on why Rio Tinto should come home. Dick Smith is crying censorship over his new (funny) ad. The latest from Israel on elections there. And Facebook search: it knows everything.

Australia is not white bred. But our Parliament certainly is.

Of the 226 federal representatives, just a handful come from a non-European background.

Liberal MP Ken Wyatt is indigenous. Finance Minister Penny Wong was born in Malaysia. Labor Senator Lisa Singh has South Asian heritage. Bob Katter has Lebanese ancestors. Opposition frontbencher Joe Hockey’s background includes family from Palestine and Armenia.

There’s not many more. That’s five out of 226.

Yet walk the streets of any city or town and you’ll see Australians whose background is Chinese, Vietnamese, Lebanese, Indian. That’s the reality — so why isn’t it reflected in our Parliament?

The push for indigenous woman Nova Peris to become the first ALP federal parliamentarian — the first ever — raises some uncomfortable questions about the health of our democracy and whether our federal Parliament really represents the society it’s supposed to.

With a total of three federal parliamentarians of indigenous backgrounds in the 112 since years federation, it’s what we should be talking about on Australia Day.

4
  • 1
    drmick
    Posted Wednesday, 23 January 2013 at 1:59 pm | Permalink

    Seems to be about as representative and commensurate of rubbish parading as “press” reporting on it. Coincidence?

  • 2
    David Hand
    Posted Wednesday, 23 January 2013 at 2:31 pm | Permalink

    The answer that springs to mind is the closed shop party machines that do the preselecting along with the highly elitist and desirable rewards that go with the job.

    Julia’s “captain’s pick” mat work if Peris is any good. But if Garret’s experience is anything to go by, she is there for public relations purposes only.

    To paraphrase Roozendaal, who will own her?

  • 3
    AR
    Posted Wednesday, 23 January 2013 at 5:52 pm | Permalink

    As part of my ‘news cure’ and specifically to avoid the oleaginous John “doyle” Oil in Fran’s seat, I’ve heard SFS about this and only the odd snark, at the PM - surprise, surprise! - from Crikey.
    The genetic/gender (and combinations thereof) representation in our Parliament is risible but parachuting demeans the ostensible beneficiary and diminishes the institution, <Iviz</I. used Carr, Sidionis, etc wayy back to Whitlam's brillinant Bass wheeze.

  • 4
    marant
    Posted Wednesday, 23 January 2013 at 10:20 pm | Permalink

    Our parliament will never be representative while we have our single-member voting system that preserves the two-party oligarchy.
    Multi-member electorates with half the seats reserved for men and half for women would be a good start in achieving a really representative parliament.

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