By Syed Atiq ul Hassan

I always support and encourage members of the community to take part in Australian politics. Whether at the Syed Atiq ul Hassan half piccouncil, state or federal level the members of the community must understand the norms and demands of our multicultural society. Australian democratic system is not like the politics in South Asian countries. Indeed, there are political families where one finds son or daughter after parents in Australian politics yet there is no nepotism based on caste, colour or religion in Australian politics and we should condemn these human divisions. Therefore, members of our community when joining politics, must understand that they are the part of our multicultural society. A person cannot be supported in election process just because he or she belongs to your own community, if we do this then we would be laying down a wrong tradition in Australian politics. Imagine if white Australians think like this then no ethnic-background person can be a member of any parliament in Australia except white Australians.

Therefore, we should support a person on merit and the criteria should be purely based on competency of the person to represent the people indiscriminately. A person must deserve to represent not only your own community but members of the entire constituency, at the same time also understands the issues of the people and able to come up with solutions. Then we must also see the person’s past services in our own community in the social and welfare work. It may be a privilege if a person of your own community has delivered outstanding public services over a period and deserve enough to represent the people in the parliament.

Currently, a nomination process is going in Labor and Liberal parties for the upcoming NSW and Victoria state elections. Generally, within the Labor or Liberal parties this is a multi-steps process where a nominee has to qualify several steps. Good luck to those who will qualify and obtain their nomination from Labor or Liberal to contest in the coming state election. It is good to see that the nominees from ethnic backgrounds, particularly from South Asian (Pakistani, Indian, Bangladeshi, Afghani) communities are taking part in this on-going nomination process.

This is a very good sign that now people from ethnic backgrounds are taking interest in local politics and want to be the parliamentary representatives of the public but for them the interest of all Australians must be supreme. The members of the community must support them, however, at the same time, in doing so one must not forget the norms of Australian politics. The person must not be supported only because he or she belongs to your own community. Only a deserved candidate should be supported. Similarly, the nominee should not approach any member of the community and asking for support just on the name of community fellow. We must maintain merit and only a deserved person should be supported. (The writer is Sydney-based community representative, journalist and an organiser of multicultural events, and editor Tribune International, his email address is shassan@tribune-intl.com )