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.

Peter Fray

Fetch your first 12 weeks for $12

Here at Crikey, we saw a mighty surge in subscribers throughout 2020. Your support has been nothing short of amazing — we couldn’t have got through this year like no other without you, our readers.

If you haven’t joined us yet, fetch your first 12 weeks for $12 and start 2021 with the journalism you need to navigate whatever lies ahead.

Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey

JOIN NOW