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Crikey Says

Jan 23, 2013

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.

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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.

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