Has the NSW Liberal party learned any lessons after Dai Le’s exit?

Pallavi Sinha got the second highest personal votes in the Liberal party in the Upper House in the last NSW elections.

NSW elections are coming up and given the abysmal performance of the Liberal party in the Federal as well as Victoria state elections the question is whether the Liberal party is going to meet a similar fate in NSW or manage to avert another disaster.

One issue that is being reportedly blamed for the dismal performance of the party is candidate selections.

Take for instance the Dai Le fiasco. Dai Le was refused an Upper House ticket in the NSW Parliament by the Liberal party in the last state elections. She quit the party after that, ran as an Independent in the Federal seat of Fowler and won what was considered a safe Labor seat. Now she is a Federal MP.

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It appears that factional power equations seem to be at play when it comes to picking candidates in the party.

Former NSW Senator Catherine Cusack (first female to be elected ‘Young Liberals’ President) who resigned earlier this year after over two decades in politics told The Australia Today,

“There is overwhelming evidence the factional power brokers are deciding selections for themselves rather than the best interests of the party and community”.

Latest reports suggest that the factions still have a huge say in which candidates are picked. According to a report in the Sydney Morning Herald three women, Families Minister Natasha Maclaren – Jones, Susan Carter and Jean Haynes are likely to be given winnable spots for the NSW Upper House elections after the factions worked together to reach an agreement.

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However, one wonders if this way of selecting candidates is going to help the party improve its chances at the ballot.

So far there seems to be zero ethnic diversity on the Liberal party Upper House ticket which will come as a disappointment for many in the Indian diaspora who are hoping to see Indian-origin Pallavi Sinha on the ticket. This despite the party’s own review of the 2022 Federal election stating “To successfully win seats, the Party must reflect modern Australia. It is therefore important the Party, as a priority, has a greater gender and ethnic diversity in pre-selection candidates”.

Ms Sinha is a multi-award winning Lawyer and Notary Public and was selected in the prestigious AFR and Westpac 100 Women of Influence. She is Principal of Lawyers with Solutions and lectures at the University of Sydney Law School.

A well known speaker and commentator, Ms Sinha was the first Indian Australian woman to be invited to join Saxton Speakers Bureau. She is also an Appointed Supporter of the Joint Federal and State Government campaign to stop Domestic or family violence (DV).

Pallavi Sinha

It is in fact telling that there is not a single MP of Indian-origin from the Liberal Party in any Parliament of Australia currently.

People of Indian origin are approximately 3% of the NSW population. NSW Parliament has 93 members in the Legislative Assembly and 42 members in the Legislative Council. Yet, in the current NSW Parliament, out of 135 MPs, there is only one MP of Indian origin, Daniel Mookhey, who is from the Labor party. Mr Mookhey is from the Upper House and Shadow Treasurer.

Ms Sinha, who has been a long time member of the Liberal party, was given number 12 spot in the last NSW Parliament Upper House elections. It would be impossible for her to make it to the Parliament at that spot.

However, she still got the second highest personal votes in the Liberal party in the Upper House elections at that spot. Given Ms Sinha’s track record, many in the Indian diaspora are hoping that she is given a winnable spot on the Upper House ticket this time around. She is also Co-Chair Liberal Party Friends of India.

Dr Shailja Chaturvedi is a Consultant Psychiatrist, an author and well known in the Indian diapora. She told The Australia Today,

“I commend Pallavi Sinha for her initiative, courage, strength and ambitious labour to meet the challenges of representing the Indian community in the Parliament. It has been long overdue that the successful, peace loving, highly educated and thriving community of Australian Indians should have a political voice”.

“I see Pallavi to be the most capable, deserving, enthusiastic and committed worker to represent the Indian diaspora for the recognition of their significant contributions. However, most importantly, Pallavi is contesting on her merit and her contributions will be significant on the vital issues which NSW government must address for its continued leadership”.

Several prominent members of the community have expressed support for Ms Sinha’s candidature.

The Indian-Australian community is now the second largest migrant group only behind the Brits and the fastest growing. It is also among the highest tax paying and most educated communities in Australia.

Pallavi Sinha at a recent event in south-western Sydney. South western sydney is the province held by Lou Amato who it is reported will be replaced by Susan Carter who lives in Pennant Hills

The Indian diaspora is keenly watching how the candidate preselection unfolds for the upcoming NSW elections. So far the only Indian-origin candidate preselected from the Liberal party is Mohit Kumar from Riverstone although there were only Indian-origin candidates in the fray for that seat. Moreover, there is not a single Indian-origin woman candidate on any ticket, as yet, for the party, either in the Upper House or the Legislative Assembly.

On the other hand, Labor has preselected Charishma Kaliyanda from Liverpool and Sameer Pandey from Winston Hills while Daniel Mookhey in all ilkelihood will become Treasurer if Labor comes to power. The contrast between the two parties couldn’t be more striking.