With this year’s election, political parties did have a window to slightly improve this. But they chose not to in most cases, critics say.
Tu Le grew up the child of Vietnamese refugees in Fowler, a south-west Sydney electorate far from the city’s beaches, and one of the poorest urban areas in the country.
The 30-year-old works as a community lawyer for refugees and migrants newly arrived to the area.
Last year, she was pre-selected by the Labor Party to run in the nation’s most multicultural seat. But then party bosses side-lined her for a white woman.
It would take Kristina Kenneally four hours on public transport – ferry, train, bus, and another bus – to get to Fowler from her home in Sydney’s Northern Beaches, where she lived on an island.
Furious locals questioned what ties she had to the area, but as one of Labor’s most prominent politicians, she was granted the traditionally Labor-voting seat.
Ms Le only learned she’d been replaced on the night newspapers went to print with the story.
“I was conveniently left off the invitation to the party meeting the next day,” she told the BBC.
Despite backlash – including a Facebook group where locals campaigned to stop Ms Kenneally’s appointment – Labor pushed through the deal.
“If this scenario had played out in Britain or the United States, it would not be acceptable,” says Dr Tim Soutphomassane, director of the Sydney Policy Lab and Australia’s former Race Discrimination Commissioner.
“But in Australia, there is a sense that you can still maintain the status quo with very limited social and political consequences.”
An insiders’ game
At least one in five Australians have a non-European background and speak a language at home other than English, according to the last census in 2016.
Some 49% of the population was born or has a parent who was born overseas. In the past 20 years, migrants from Australia’s Asian neighbours have eclipsed those from the UK.
But the parliament looks almost as white as it did in the days of the “White Australia” policy – when from 1901 to the 1970s, the nation banned non-white immigrants.
“We simply do not see our multicultural character represented in anything remotely close to proportionate form in our political institutions,” says Dr Soutphomassane.
Compared to other Western multicultural democracies, Australia also lags far behind.
The numbers below include Indigenous Australians, who did not gain suffrage until the 1960s, and only saw their first lower house MP elected in 2010. Non-white candidates often acknowledge that any progress was first made by Aboriginal Australians.
Two decades ago, Australia and the UK had comparably low representation. But UK political parties – responding to campaigns from diverse members – pledged to act on the problem.
“The British Conservative Party is currently light years ahead of either of the major Australian political parties when it comes to race and representation,” says Dr Soutphomassane.
So why hasn’t Australia changed?
Observers say Australia’s political system is more closed-door than other democracies. Nearly all candidates chosen by the major parties tend to be members who’ve risen through the ranks. Often they’ve worked as staffers to existing MPs.
Ms Le said she’d have no way into the political class if she hadn’t been sponsored by Fowler’s retiring MP – a white, older male.
Labor has taken small structural steps recently – passing commitments in a state caucus last year, and selecting two Chinese-Australian candidates for winnable seats in Sydney.
But it was “one step forward and two steps back”, says party member and activist Osmond Chiu, when just weeks after the backlash to Ms Le’s case, Labor “parachuted in” another white candidate to a multicultural heartland.
Andrew Charlton, a former adviser to ex-PM Kevin Rudd, lived in a harbour mansion in Sydney’s east where he ran a consultancy.
His selection scuppered the anticipated races of at least three diverse candidates from the area which has large Indian and Chinese diasporas.
Party seniors argued that Ms Kenneally and Mr Charlton – as popular and respected party figures – would be able to promote their electorates’ concerns better than newcomers.
Labor leader Anthony Albanese also hailed Ms Kenneally as a “great Australian success story” as a migrant from the US herself.
But Mr Chiu says: “A lot of the frustration that people expressed wasn’t about these specific individuals.
“It was about the fact that these were two of the most multicultural seats in Australia and these opportunities – which come by so rarely – to select culturally diverse candidates were squandered.”
He adds this has long-term effects because the average MP stays in office for about 10 years.
The frustration on this issue has centred on Labor – because the centre-left party calls itself the “party of multiculturalism”.
But the Liberal-National government doesn’t even have diversity as a platform issue.
One of its MPs up for re-election recently appeared to confuse her Labor rival for Tu Le, sparking accusations that she’d mixed up the two Asian-Australian women – something she later denied. But as one opponent said: “How is this still happening in 2022?”
Some experts like Dr Soutphommasane have concluded that Australia’s complacency on areas like representation stems from how the nation embraced multiculturalism as official policy after its White Australia days.
The government of the 1970s, somewhat embarrassed by the past policy, passed racial discrimination laws and “a seat at the table” was granted to migrants and Indigenous Australians.
But critics say this has led to an Australia where multiculturalism is celebrated but racial inequality is not interrogated.
“Multiculturalism is almost apolitical in how it’s viewed in Australia,” Dr Soutphommasane says, in contrast to the “fight” for rights that other Western countries have seen from minority groups.
What is the impact?
A lack of representation in parliament can also lead to failures in policy.
During Sydney’s Covid outbreak in August 2021, Fowler and Parramatta electorates – where most of the city’s multicultural communities reside – were subject to harsher lockdowns as a result of a higher number of cases.
How will things change?
Liberal MP Dave Sharma, the only lawmaker of Indian heritage, has said all parties – including his own – should better recruit people with different backgrounds. He called it a “pretty laissez-faire attitude” currently.
Mr Albanese has urged Ms Le to “hang in there”, insisting she has a future.
But more people like Ms Le are choosing to speak out.
“I think I surprised a lot of people by not staying quiet,” she told the BBC.
“People acted like it was the end of my political career that I didn’t toe the party line. But… none of that means anything to me if it means I’m sacrificing my own values.”
She and other second-generation Australians – raised in a country which prides itself on “a fair go” – are agitating for the rights and access their migrant parents may not have felt entitled to.
“Many of those from diverse backgrounds were saying they felt like they didn’t have a voice – and that my case was a clear demonstration of their suppression, and their wider participation in our political system.”
She and others have noted the “growing distrust” in the major parties. Polls are predicting record voter support for independent candidates.
“This issue…. matters for everyone in Australian society that cares about democracy,” says Mr Soutphommasane.
“If democratic institutions are not representative, their legitimacy will suffer.
New Species Discovered Online By Botanists
In Australia, researchers discover several unknown carnivorous plants – not in the open air, but on the Internet. Research in front of the screen is now part of everyday life for botanists. Many creatures would otherwise remain undiscovered before they became extinct, they explain.
Social media has become a treasure trove for species researchers: a German-Australian team of scientists did not discover four out of six new carnivorous plants during field research in Western Australia, but identified them on Facebook, Instagram & Co. They were posted there by nature photographers, according to a statement on the study.
Such data, often published accidentally, sometimes intentionally, by hobby photographers and citizen scientists have become a valuable source for biodiversity researchers. And thus of great importance for the protection of many animal and plant species, emphasized Andreas Fleischmann from the Munich State Botanical Collection and the Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich. “In particular, it would not have been possible for us to determine the distribution areas of very rare species without this additional wealth of data.”
“Race Against Time”
He and his team had described six previously unknown carnivorous sundew species found in Western Australia and published the results of the investigations in the journal Biology. So far, only three species from the so-called Drosera microphylla species complex were known. Although many species are becoming extinct worldwide in the 21st century, new animal and plant species are still being discovered. “A race against time,” emphasized the scientists. Without the intensive work of species researchers, “many creatures would become extinct without ever having been known before”.
In the meantime, there is far more observation data from lay scientists in social media and even in scientific biodiversity databases than data from research collections, especially for the visually conspicuous carnivorous plants, according to a statement from the state collection on the study. For example, a sundew species from South Africa was known from three historical herbarium specimens and seven photos on a Citizen Science website in 2018.
Today there are already 307 observations from 131 amateur researchers interested in nature on the internet platform. “Meanwhile, the number of known herbarium specimens of sundew from South Africa in the scientific collections has remained the same.”
This article is originally published on n-tv.de/wissen
Australian Open Ban On Russian, Belarusian Flags Sparks Debate
The Australian Open tennis organization today banned the display of Russian and Belarusian flags at the tournament venue, after a man hung the Russian flag in the stands during Sunday’s opening match between Kamilla Rakhimova of Russia and Ukraine. Kateryna Kozlova.
“The flags of Russia and Belarus are prohibited within the Australian Open,” the Australian Tennis Federation said in a statement.
“Our initial policy was that fans could bring them, but they couldn’t use them to disturb. Yesterday we had an incident where a Russian flag was placed next to the track,” the entity said.
“The ban is effective immediately. We will continue to work with the players and fans to ensure the best possible environment to enjoy tennis,” the text added, quoted by the AFP news agency.
Since the Russian invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, dozens of Russian athletes, teams and federations have been removed from major competitions or forced to participate without a flag.
This new sanction comes in response to a complaint from the Ukrainian Ambassador to Australia and New Zealand, Vasil Miroshnichenko, who last night called on Tennis Australia to take action against the display of these flags.
“We strongly condemn the public display of the Russian flag during Ukrainian tennis player Kateryna Kozlova’s match at the Australian Open,” he tweeted.
“I call on Tennis Australia to immediately implement its ‘neutral flag’ policy,” he added.
Ukrainian Won The Match
The Ukrainian won the match 7-5, 6-7 (8/10), 6-1 and will face American Caty McNally in the second round.
Ambassador Miroshnichenko had requested last week that the tournament completely ban players from Russia and Belarus from participating.
Wimbledon opted for this measure last year and banned players from these two countries in the tournament, which as a result did not count for the rankings by decision of the ATP and WTA.
The Russian embassy in Australia criticized “another example of the unacceptable politicization of the sport” and regretted that, in addition to carrying a neutral flag, its players “cannot be visibly supported by the fans.”
For her part, the Belarusian and world number five Aryna Sabalenka said that she was not opposed to the ban on flags “if everyone felt better like this”, but pointed out that sport “has nothing to do with politics”. .
“It’s not fair. People are dying there,” said Ukrainian tennis player Oleksii Krutykh, who assured that his country’s players were “shocked” by the appearance of Russian flags in the stands.
A Russian banner also appeared on Melbourne’s center court, Rod Laver Arena, during Russian Daniil Medvedev’s match against American Marcos Giron.
“It’s not fair what they’re doing,” said the 22-year-old Krutykh after his first-round loss to Argentine Diego Schwartzman.
“I think the guys who did it (display flags during the Koslova match) were Russians who live here, so they don’t care about what happens in my country,” said the young man, who was out of town when the war broke out. country and settled in Berlin.
“It may be ugly to say it, but if I want to go back to Ukraine, I can go back, but then I can’t leave because I’m 22 years old,” Krutykh explained, referring to the fact that he is of fighting age.
On the other hand, yesterday it became known that Russia and Belarus are off the list of countries that will broadcast the Olympic Games during the period between 2026 and 2032.
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) announced that it awarded all audiovisual rights in Europe until 2032 to the European Broadcasting Union and Warner Bros Discovery, which will broadcast in 49 countries and exclude Russia and Belarus, the Sputnik news agency reported.
This article is originally published on ambito.com
Saudi women in Sydney: Sisters’ bodies lay undiscovered for a month
Australian police are baffled after the bodies of two Saudi women, believed to have lain undiscovered for a month, were found in a Sydney apartment.
Sisters Asra Abdullah Alsehli, 24, and Amaal Abdullah Alsehli, 23, were found dead on 7 June in separate beds at home in the suburb of Canterbury.
Police, who were called to the property for a welfare check, said the women are believed to have died in early May.
But despite “extensive inquiries”, they still do not know how or why.
The sisters moved to Australia from Saudi Arabia in 2017 and may have sought asylum, The Sydney Morning Herald reported. Police refused to confirm this, saying they do not comment on residential status.
A human rights organisation said it should be established whether the women fled Saudi Arabia because of domestic violence or harsh laws governing women. However, there is no evidence this is the case.
Police said they had been in contact with the women’s family, which is assisting them with inquiries.
Lina al-Hathloul, head of monitoring and communications at Saudi human rights organisation ALQST, said it “would not be the first case” of Saudi women who were killed abroad after fleeing domestic violence.
“There are no protections for women who are victims of domestic violence in Saudi Arabia, so they flee abroad,” she told the BBC.
She added: “I’m not saying that is the case here, just that we need a thorough investigation. It is frustrating not to have any information.”
According to the Sydney Morning Herald, there had been signs that something was wrong.
Last year, the women told their building manager they thought someone was tampering with their food deliveries, the paper reported.
A plumber who visited the apartment also said he believed there was “something mysterious” going on, and that police had been called in the past over concerns for the women.
New South Wales Police issued a renewed plea to the public on Wednesday, saying “any piece of information” could be the key to solving this case.
The local community is close-knit, police said in a statement, asking anyone who may have known or seen the women to come forward.
A report from Australian current affairs programme Four Corners in 2019 found 80 Saudi women had tried to seek asylum in Australia in recent years. Many of them were fleeing male guardianship laws.
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