Australia’s 47th parliament has been officially declared by the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC), and it’s been hailed as one of the most diverse in the country’s history.
With the 151 members in the House of Representatives and the 40 positions that were up for election in the Senate now confirmed, there has been an uptick of women in the House of Representatives, the number of Asian-Australian politicians has doubled and Indigenous representation is now reflective of the national population.
People With Disability Australia President Samantha Connor said levels of disabled representation were “astounding”.
She added: “Our parliament should be a true ‘parliament of the people’ and reflect the community – there should be Aboriginal people, people of colour, disabled people, older Australians and younger people, as well as people from low socioeconomic backgrounds.”
Women’s ranks rise
The new parliament also now has 43 women in the Senate, making up 56.5 per cent of the upper house. That’s up from 52.5 per cent in the previous parliament.
Asian-Australian representation more than doubles
Only three Australians from Asian backgrounds were in the House of Representatives prior to the 2022 federal election. Those figures have has since more than doubled in what has been described as a “huge improvement” by Ms Dawson.
Others include Dai Le in Sydney’s Fowler, Michelle Ananda-Rajah in Melbourne’s Higgins, Zaneta Mascarenhas in Perth’s Swan, Sally Sitou in Sydney’s Reid and Cassandra Fernando in Melbourne’s Holt.
But advocates remain dissatisfied with the 4 per cent of Asian-Australian representation in parliament. This is compared to 16 per cent of Australia’s population being born in Asian countries, according to the 2016 Census.
Despite this, Ms Dawson says she is confident Australians will see — and vote for — more politicians with Asian backgrounds with time.
“Australia’s history of multiculturalism and immigration moves very slowly,” Ms Dawson said.
And with Labor’s Sally Sitou taking the reins in the multicultural seat of Reid, and independent MP Dai Le taking the safe seat of Fowler from Kristina Keneally, Ms Dawson says one message is clear.
“It’s really important … that those communities are represented by people that reflect the reality of that community,” Ms Dawson said.
First Muslims make it into federal parliament
It was a moment of firsts for Muslim representation in the 47th parliament, with the first hijab-wearing politician entering the Senate, Fatima Payman
“Having parliamentarians with refugee backgrounds I think is really important to understanding our nation,” Ms Dawson said.
“Other than the First Nations people, we all come from some form of immigrant background.