24 March 2021

Osmond Chiu: “Australia likes to see itself as punching above its weight as a middle power, but this boast does not hold true when it comes to the representation of cultural diversity in politics. … The 2018 Leading for Change report from the Australian Human Rights Commission showed that only 4% of federal MPs had non-European ancestry, compared to 19% of the Australian population. The underrepresentation … [is] particularly stark for Asian Australians. … An estimated 14.7% of Australian adults today are of Asian heritage, similar to the proportion of African-Americans in the US population. New Zealand and Canada have about the same percentage of the population with Asian ancestry, but in terms of political representation, Australia does far worse than other English-speaking Western democracies. More than 5% of New Zealand parliamentarians have Asian heritage, as do 12.8% of Canadian MPs and 3.8% of members of the US Congress. … The image that Australia wants to project – of being the most successful multicultural country in the world – is shattered by a simple look at Australia’s parliament. There is a cognitive dissonance in championing a diverse, multicultural population and at the same time maintaining extremely unrepresentative corridors of power.”