Diversity in parliament increases with incoming MPs

By Anna Macdonald

May 25, 2022

Linda Burney
Incoming Minister for Indigenous Australians Linda Burney. (AAP Image/Lukas Coch)

With the vote still being counted, it looks like Australia’s parliament will include greater representation of Indigenous Australians and Asian Australians.

Labor’s Linda Burney is set to become the first Aboriginal woman to be minister for Indigenous Affairs, having been reelected in Barton. 

In the Northern Territory, Labor’s Marion Scrymgour is set to win the seat of Linigiari. Greens senator for Victoria Lidia Thorpe, Greens senator for Western Australia Dorinda Cox, and Labor senator for Jana Stewart are all Indigenous women who have joined the senate. Labor’s Gordon Reid has become the member for Robertson. 

Both of the Northern Territories’ senate seats are set to be represented by two Indigenous women, with Labor senator Malarndirri McCarthy retaining her seat and Country Liberals’ Jacinta Nampijinpa Price winning a seat, as reported in the ABC.  

Meanwhile, the first Indigenous Australian to be elected to the House of Representatives, Liberal Ken Wyatt, has conceded his seat in Western Australia. 

“This will be the first Parliament in my lifetime that comes close to representing Australia as we are today: a country which includes its proud Indigenous history, where women’s voices will match their contributions, and cultural diversity in us is visible and valued,” director of education at Judith Neilson Institute for Journalism Andrea Ho said on LinkedIn.

Ho mentioned in the post as well the increase in representation of Asian Australians. 

Independent Dai Le has been elected in Fowler. For Labor, Sam Lim in Tangey, Michelle Ananda-Rajah in Higgins, Zaneta Mascarenhas in Swan, Sally Sitou in Reid and Cassandra Fernando in Holt have all won seats.

Sitou was in the news during the election when incumbent Fiona Martin appeared to mistake her for another Asian Australian Tu Le during a debate on the radio. Martin has denied the mix-up. 

Penny Wong has also become the first Asian Australian to hold the position of foreign minister. 

The lack of racial diversity in Australia’s parliament was noted prior to the election in an article by the BBC, asking why 96% of parliamentarians were white. 

“The British Conservative Party is currently light years ahead of either of the major Australian political parties when it comes to race and representation,” Sydney Policy Lab director Dr Tim Soutphomassane said in the article. 


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