The ALP also needs to consider where its pendulum lies with diversity in representation and returning to its core values of inclusivity and embrace for multiculturalism.
A postal ballot was all it took to determine the fate of a popular Senator. The faction lords of the ALP left in Tasmania strung a deal behind closed doors with union stalwarts, to install Australian Manufacturing Workers Union Secretary John Short as the number three candidate and the current sitting Senator Lisa Singh as number four on the Senate pre selection ticket.
What this means is that essentially Lisa Singh, who currently holds the Shadow Parliamentary Secretary roles for Environment, Climate Change and Water will not serve another term as a Senator once her remaining two years are up of this current term. It is disappointing to see an accomplished, talented, experienced and passionate politician be demoted for a candidate who was selected purely on factional pretences.
The ALP really needs to sit down and reflect on its pre-selection processes to look beyond the traditional factional done deals and nepotistic ascensions, and to include selection processes which are determined by merit, contribution, experience and community engagement. The ALP also needs to consider where its pendulum lies with diversity in representation and returning to its core values of inclusivity and embrace for multiculturalism.
The loss of Lisa Singh, is a loss for diverse leadership and is quite significant considering ALP at its recent national conference adopted a policy to see women represent fifty percent of its MPs in ten years. But behind all the fanfare and glitzy messages, the ALP is still dominated by the powers of factions and its secret deals and processes.
And whilst it is absolutely imperative that gender equality targets are met, the debate for cultural diversity in representation is not even a factor in the equation. To demote Lisa Singh will only hurt the party and set the clocks backward twenty years. There has been much outcry in the multicultural communities, calling the ALP to have a serious think about how their candidates are selected. At a Federal level, once Lisa serves her final two years, only Penny Wong will remain as the sole multicultural representative, reducing the cultural representation to less than half of a percent as opposed to the ten percent of Australia’s population who come from an Asian Australian background.
Lisa has a proven track record for advocating on issues within and beyond her portfolios. Her stance on issues pertaining to the environment, human rights, race discrimination, and to restore Federal funding for the arts was not enough to save her job. And before she became a Senator she was an avid advocate for the Australian republican movement and served a term as the state member for Dennison and a Minister under the David Bartlett State Government in 2008.
As a Senator she reached the milestone as the first South Asian to enter Australian Parliament, and was promoted to the Shadow Ministry in 2013 as the Parliamentary Secretary to the Attorney General during a turbulent period and fought tooth and nail with her party against repealing section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act. Her conviction and compassion was shown when she tirelessly pushed the ALP’s position in advocating to free Peter Creste and opposition to the Bali Nine executions. In addition she fostered the strengthening of the relationships between India and Australia and was awarded the Pravasi Bharatiya Samman, the highest civilian award in India for her public service.
Lisa Singh, like Penny Wong, pierced the bamboo ceiling, and achieved heights which were beyond expectations. However, under all the glitz and glamour of progressive politics, her career will be cut short, and her departure will see the bamboo ceiling becoming more of a permanent fixture in Australia’s current political landscape.
The ALP, like the other major political parties need to recognise that the multicultural communities are more than just fundraising machines, additional votes and CALD language campaigners, and more needs to be done to set targets for better diversity in multicultural representation. With Lisa gone this agenda will be pushed back, with the ALP perceived as a party who has lost touch with the multicultural communities. With continual advocacy and outcry from the multicultural communities, it is hoped that ALP and the other parties will soon realise and learn how important piercing the bamboo ceiling is to truly represent the growing colour and diversity of this great nation.
( Picture sources have been sourced from Senator Lisa Singh Facebook page)