Kristina Keneally
Senator Kristina Keneally (Image: AAP/Mick Tsikas)

Kristina Keneally is digging her heels in. The Labor senator’s decision to switch to the lower house seat of Fowler in western Sydney at the expense of local hopeful Tu Le has drawn anger from within and outside the ALP. 

Keneally parachuting into one of the country's most multicultural electorates ahead of Le, a child of Vietnamese immigrants with deep ties to the community, has finally focused attention back on the shocking lack of cultural diversity in Australian politics -- an area in which Australia lags stubbornly behind the United Kingdom, New Zealand and Canada.

In Australia, people from a non-European and Indigenous background make up 24% of the population (21% non-European and 3% Indigenous). Human Rights Commission research in 2018 found just 4.1% of federal MPs came from a non-European background, with 1.5% Indigenous. In NSW and Victoria, 9% and 10% of MPs respectively have non-European, non-Indigenous heritage.