In a presentation to the Australian National University Gender & Cultural Diversity in Politics workshop, Osmond Chiu, a research fellow at Per Capita, said Australia remains at the back of the pack when it comes to diversity within its federal parliament.
“Our most diverse parliament ever still has a long way to go to truly reflect multicultural Australia,” he said.
“Australia still continues to lag far behind similar countries like Canada and New Zealand. Even the United Kingdom is way ahead of us despite being much less culturally diverse. It is a systemic problem that we need to address.”
“In comparable countries, major parties on both the left and right take the problem of underrepresentation seriously,” said Chiu, who is also a member of New South Wales Labor’s policy forum.
“They have programs specifically tailored for culturally diverse talent, they actively recruit and promote diverse candidates and ensure formal representation within party structures. They see it as necessary for their electoral prospects. In Australia, it is still an afterthought or placed in the too-hard basket.”
Chiu said solutions aren’t easy, but they aren’t impossible.
“There is no silver bullet but implementing the Jenkins review’s recommendations would be a start,” he said.
“It recommended publishing diversity data about MPs and implementing a 10-year strategy to increase diversity in politics. Normalising data collection will also make it easier to address questions about targets and quotas.”
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