A Labor Party That Reflects Australia's Diversity

NSW Labor State Conference delegates

Australia is a proudly multicultural society but our political institutions, including our own party, does not reflect our nation’s cultural diversity.

In 2018, the Australian Human Rights Commission released its Leading for Change report. It found that 21% of Australians had a non-European heritage but that translated to less than 4.1% of federal MPs and not a single Minister.

Australia does far worse than comparable English-speaking Westminster democracies such as New Zealand, Canada and the United Kingdom when it comes to the representation of cultural diversity. Each of those countries have a different electoral and party system which suggests there is something deeper going on.

Chart: Representation of non-European heritage national MPs vs diversity of national population

This is not an ideological issue. In the United Kingdom, the equivalent of the Treasurer and Home Affairs Minister are people of colour after Prime Minister Boris Johnson explicitly stated he wanted a Cabinet that reflected “modern Britain”. The frontbench of the British Conservative Party is more diverse than the ALP frontbench despite the United Kingdom being less culturally diverse than Australia.

To put it on the agenda and kickstart an overdue conversation, branches in New South Wales are being urged to support platform changes that prioritise a diverse party at the upcoming 2021 NSW State Conference.

If you would like to show your support for the platform amendment and be involved in this ongoing campaign for greater cultural diversity within the Australian Labor Party, please sign and share this petition.

To: NSW Labor State Conference delegates
From: [Your Name]

The ongoing underrepresentation of people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds in our democratic institutions is an urgent problem that needs to be addressed.

As a party committed to equality, Labor should prioritise better representation but there is also an electoral imperative. Our party does not reflect the communities we seek to represent. A party that does not reflect our society’s cultural diversity will not have the understanding, community links or engagement that we need to win.

The Coalition has dug into multicultural religious communities and local business networks for the last decade and we see its electoral impact. We see multicultural seats that were once safe Labor seats in the middle-ring of Sydney like Banks and Reid that the Liberals now hold. Other seats further west are becoming more marginal.

We cannot just send volunteers to doorknock and call an area they are not from after an election is called, we need genuine local engagement and involvement, rooted in our diverse communities, not a transactional approach.

For Labor to win the next state election and win more federal seats in New South Wales, Labor needs to change. Labor needs to prioritise building a party that reflects our nation’s cultural diversity, recognising it is an electoral imperative.

We, as rank-and-file ALP members, are urging Conference delegates from electorate councils, affiliated unions and party units to support the following platform change for Chapter 2 - Social Justice and Legal Affairs:

Amending the NSW Labor Platform by inserting the following clause after 2.39:

2.40 NSW Labor recognises the ongoing underrepresentation of culturally and linguistically diverse people in senior leadership positions across business, politics, government and higher education. NSW Labor is committed to improving the representation of culturally and linguistically diverse people across all organisations and institutions, including within the party.

Change is not easy and will not come overnight but it is necessary if we want a modern, successful party that will win power.