Dec 19, 2017

Pollies have a lot to learn about Chinese-Australians

It would be generous to say both major parties were less than impressive when it came to effectively reading and communicating with Chinese-Australians.

Jieh-Yung Lo — Policy adviser

Jieh-Yung Lo

Policy adviser

As a Chinese-Australian, I do not think I recall ever seeing our community being front and centre in Australia’s political system. But this past weekend, perhaps for the first time in Australian history, Chinese-Australians determined whether Australia’s federal government would be in majority or minority government. The Bennelong byelection was not just a mini-referendum of the Turnbull government or the eligibility of Bill Shorten as prime minister, it was a test on how multicultural communities are perceived in the eyes of political parties and campaigns.   

When it came to winning over the Chinese-Australian community, both major parties thought the Sam Dastyari scandal would be the difference-maker. The byelection campaign quickly turned from bread-and-butter issues such as education, infrastructure and health, to Chinese foreign influence in Australian politics. But the Chinese-Australian community is not a monolithic community, and it shouldn’t be treated as one by political parties. Assuming the donations saga would be the only issue that would sway our vote was also a huge mistake.

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6 thoughts on “Pollies have a lot to learn about Chinese-Australians

  1. Desmond Graham

    There is a difference between Australian – Chinese and Chinese – Australians it is self explanatory.

  2. Xoanon

    Good point by the writer, would’ve been much more effective for Labor to choose an Asian-Australian candidate with deep ties to the area, than to draft a former Premier with plenty of baggage.

    1. Woopwoop

      Only 20% of the electorate is of Chinese background, and some sub-groups of them are suspicious of other sub-groups of them.

  3. Pedantic, Balwyn

    My impression was that Shorten felt that the Dastyari saga hurt Labor with the Anglo and other communities, not specifically with Chinese Australian electors.Otherwise an insightful article.

  4. Bob the builder

    “the Chinese-Australian community is not a monolithic community”

    Oh, yeah, then why do you spend your entire article writing as if they are? And why do you suggest selecting a “Chinese-Australian” candidate as a way to win votes? – surely “Chinese-Australians” are capable of voting beyond narrow ethnic self-interest for the best candidate?

    Poor form Crikey, yet another unimaginative hack writing unimaginative filler. And this one clearly an exponent of that proud ALP tradition, ethnic branch-stacking.

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