Labor Criticised For Tone-Deaf Plans To Seat White Millionaire In Multicultural Western Sydney

“Communities of colour and working class communities should have the opportunity to be represented by those very people.”

Andrew Charlton

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Labor is being criticised for their plans to parachute a white candidate into a multicultural seat in Western Sydney ahead of the Federal election.

Andrew Charlton is reportedly Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese’s first pick for the marginal seat of Parramatta. If picked by the party, he would step over candidates Durga Owen, Alan Mascarenhas, and Abha Devasia — three local community members vying for pre-selection.

Despite Charlton not coming from the area, The Sydney Morning Herald said the economist, and former adviser to Kevin Rudd, is willing to move out of his $16 million home next to Lachlan Murdoch’s property in the affluent suburb of Bellevue Hill if voted in.

Census data shows that a third of the electorate has Indian, Chinese, or Lebanese ancestry, as reported by the ABC. Advocacy group Democracy in Colour criticised the party’s plan, saying it “exposes Labor’s whiteness bias” and “reveals the party’s disregard for people of colour and Western Sydney’s working class people”.

“Instead of supporting any of the local Labor members who happen to be people of colour — much like the electorate of Parramatta itself — the ALP are considering parachuting in a wealthy, white candidate from the Eastern Suburbs,” said their National Director Neha Madhok.

“Charlton doesn’t live in the area and is disconnected from the community. He’s being given this opportunity because of who he knows, and who his friends are,” she said. “His opportunity comes at the expense of the candidates and [people of colour] who are engaged with their community.”

The current Labor MP for Parramatta, Julie Owens, has held the seat for the last 18 years and is retiring at the next election. She told the Guardian the pick for her replacement should lie with the local branch via ballot vote instead of a top-down party decision.

“I’ve said before one of the great strengths of our democracy is that our leaders are chosen by people who know them. I firmly believe my branch members are in the best position to decide on who the best person to replace me in Parramatta is,” she said.

As identified by Victorian MP Peter Khalil last year, people of colour make up just four percent of Federal Parliament, while making up 20 percent of Australia’s population.

In September, Albanese also lined up Kristina Keneally to take over another Western Sydney electorate — the ethnically diverse seat of Fowler — kicking out the daughter of Vietnamese refugees and local hopeful Tu Le in the process.

“Our politicians should reflect the communities they represent,” said Madhok. “Communities of colour and working class communities should have the opportunity to be represented by those very people.”

The upcoming Federal election — yet to be announced — is predicted to take place in May.