Melbourne, June 10: Five Indian-origin people, including two women, are among the 200 candidates contesting for next month’s general elections in Australia.
In the House of Representatives all 150 seats will be contested, as well as the 76 Senate seats – the first time this has happened in an early election since 1987.
The Indian-origin candidates in the fray include two women of Indian background, 51-year-old Australian Sikh Alex Bhathal representing the Greens Party and 43-year-old Fiji Indian Lisa Singh of Labor Party.
Shashi Bhatti, who migrated from India in 1989 and Chris Gambian, an Australian born to Indian parents from Bangalore, are also contesting the elections from Labor Party.
39-year-old Mohit Kumar is the only India-born who is contesting the elections from Liberal party. He is a Faridabad resident who migrated to Australia in 1994 as an international student.
Kumar said it was his consistent hard work that paid off for him to win the party ticket.
It was imperative for Indians to join the high offices of the country and to be a part of policy making, he said. “True multiculturalism does not come from lip service or attending Indian events. It also comes from having a fair representation at all the levels including government, parliament, business and other areas,” Kumar said.
Gambian said, while there was a low representation of Indians in the Australian politics more Indian background people should become its part.
“I joined the Labor party when I was 16-years-old and I thought it was a party of social justice and fairness,” Gambian said adding that his key to win the party was getting involved in party works and believing party policies.
Labor senator Lisa Singh was relegated to an unwinnable sixth spot at the unveiling of Labor’s Senate candidates last month, Ms Singh speaking of her Tasmanian seat: “I still think Labor has those good processes but there’s always room for improvement.”
Senator Singh suggested the decision to relegate her to last spot was a backroom deal made by a handful of powerbrokers.
Meanwhile, Greens’ Alex Bhathal fighting from the inner Melbourne seat of Batman is riding high on changing demographics – increasingly gentrifying suburbs of Northcote and Preston, leading to an inroad for Greens.
Although, winning 26.4 per cent primary vote at the last election, Ms Bhathal is a serious contender in 2016, notwithstanding her 39.4% as against Labor’s David Feeney’s 60.6% on the two-party preferred basis in 2013.
Alex Bhathal has been contesting from the seat of Batman since 2001, and her win in the 2016 election may well be contributed to a large extent by Labor’s David Feeney, depressing the negative-gearing button; just when negative-gearing debate was at its peak.
Ms Bhathal’s unyielding stance on multiculturalism is also increasingly making her a popular figure, especially in middle-class base of her constituency. She tweeted: “The Greens are standing up for multiculturalism, diversity and equality”.
While Mr Feeney reels under humiliation; and Labor increasingly paranoid, Ms Bhathal may well be cruising into the Parliament, backed by the largest Green base in Australia – Darebin Greens with 400 members.
Come July 2, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull is expected to return with greatly reduced lower house majority, as predicted by political analyst, Dr Nick Economou.
According to Dr Economou, it will neither Greens’ Di Natale or Labor’s Shorten but South Australian Nick Xenophon who will wield the power to direct the future of Australian politics .
Nidhi Mehta with agencies