15 October 2020

Osmond Chiu: “I have followed the debate about our relationship with China, but I did not fully appreciate how toxic it had become until I appeared before the Senate inquiry into issues facing diaspora communities on Wednesday. I spoke to the committee about the underrepresentation of multicultural communities in Australian politics. Australia’s Parliament is significantly less representative of cultural diversity than Canada, the United Kingdom and New Zealand. Instead of being asked about complex issues facing multicultural communities or how Australia could benefit from a more diverse Parliament, I was asked by Senator Eric Abetz to ‘unequivocally condemn’ the Chinese Communist Party. Presumably, the association trying to be made was that, by virtue of my ethnicity, there was some likelihood of divided allegiances. It felt like a gotcha loyalty test, an attempt to goad me, reducing me to a foreigner who needed to show which side I was on. … Among the evidence at the hearing on Wednesday was that Chinese Australians were reluctant to appear in public debates because they feared their remarks would be taken out of context and twisted. Is it any wonder when elected representatives treat us with such scepticism and derision?” You would think Abetz — a German-born man with family ties to the Nazi Party — would be more reluctant to engage in this kind of ethnic stereotyping.