GoBookMe.com.au – Labor senator Kristina Keneally confirms she will buy a house in Fowler electorate south-west Sydney

Labor senator Kristina Keneally has declared she wants to live in multicultural south-west Sydney rather than her exclusive island home 44km away

Labor senator Kristina Keneally has declared she wants to live in multicultural south-west Sydney rather than her exclusive island home 44km away. 

The former NSW premier and federal Labor frontbencher is being parachuted into the ultra-safe seat of Fowler after failing to win the top spot on the Opposition’s Senate ticket.

This has seen Labor stop lawyer Tu Le, the daughter of Vietnamese refugees, from being its candidate despite the party promising to get more migrants into Parliament. 

Instead of running in the third Senate spot, which Labor last won in 2007, Senator Keneally is instead being parachuted in as an ALP candidate in a multicultural electorate that has been subjected to harsher lockdown restrictions than most of Sydney.

The area is also 44km from her northern beaches home on Scotland Island, which can only be accessed by ferry, and contains Covid hotspots councils Fairfield and Liverpool. 

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Labor senator Kristina Keneally has declared she wants to live in multicultural south-west Sydney rather than her exclusive island home 44km away

Senator Keneally confirmed she and her husband Ben were house hunting in the area, four years after they bought their island home for $1.8million.

‘We’re looking at different types of properties at the moment, but I don’t think we’ve made a final decision on those questions,’ she told Sydney radio 2GB on Monday.

But the mother of two sons stopped short of saying whether she would buy or rent, arguing a possible early election complicated things.

‘I don’t think we’ve made a final decision on those questions,’ she said. 

Senator Keneally’s preselection, imposed by Labor’s New South Wales Right faction general secretary Bob Nanva, also means she will be the candidate at the expense of Ms Le, 30, who lives in the Fowler electorate.

Senator Keneally, Labor’s American-born immigration spokeswoman, agreed with a suggestion from 2GB broadcaster Joe Hildebrand that Labor needed to better represent people from non-English speaking backgrounds.

‘It’s fair enough we have a discussion about the representation of people from diverse backgrounds,’ Senator Keneally said.

‘Is there more we can do? Yes.’

She also acknowledged Ms Le, who has the support of Fowler’s outgoing Labor MP Chris Hayes, was talented.

‘Right across the Labor Party branches in Fowler, there are a number of talented up-and-coming young people including Tu Le,’ Senator Keneally said.

The former NSW premier and federal Labor frontbencher is being parachuted into the ultra-safe seat of Fowler after failing to win the top spot on the Opposition's Senate ticket. Instead of running in the third spot, which Labor last won in 2007, Senator Keneally is instead being parachuted in as an ALP candidate in a multicultural electorate that has been subjected to harsher lockdown restrictions than most of Sydney (pictured is Cabramatta during lockdown)

The former NSW premier and federal Labor frontbencher is being parachuted into the ultra-safe seat of Fowler after failing to win the top spot on the Opposition’s Senate ticket. Instead of running in the third spot, which Labor last won in 2007, Senator Keneally is instead being parachuted in as an ALP candidate in a multicultural electorate that has been subjected to harsher lockdown restrictions than most of Sydney (pictured is Cabramatta during lockdown)

She also acknowledged Ms Le, who had the support of Fowler's outgoing Labor MP Chris Hayes, was talented

She also acknowledged Ms Le, who had the support of Fowler’s outgoing Labor MP Chris Hayes, was talented

While Labor holds Fowler with a safe 14 per cent margin, Senator Keneally has now promised to continue living in the area should the unthinkable happen and Labor lose the seat. 

‘Seeking to represent the community would mean living there,’ she said. 

A majority of Fowler electorate residents were born overseas and Vietnamese is the most common ancestry in a seat containing Cabramatta.

When Ms Keneally was premier in March 2011, the state seat of Cabramatta almost went to Liberal Party candidate Dai Le, a Vietnamese refugee, with Labor suffering a mammoth 26.9 per swing against it at the election.

The Liberal Party has had a better record of getting Chinese ancestry Australians into federal Parliament, with Chisholm MP Gladys Liu and former lower house member Michael Johnson both born in Hong Kong.

Tsebin Tchen was a Liberal a senator for Victoria from 1999 to 2005 and while Chinese Australian Bill O’Chee was a Queensland National Party senator from 1990 to 1999.

The area is also 44km from her Northern Beaches home on Scotland Island, which can only be accessed by ferry, and contains the Covid hotspot Fairfield and Liverpool council areas

The area is also 44km from her Northern Beaches home on Scotland Island, which can only be accessed by ferry, and contains the Covid hotspot Fairfield and Liverpool council areas

While Labor’s Senate leader Penny Wong was born in Malaysia, a Labor candidate with at least one Asian parent hasn’t ever won a federal House of Representatives seat.

At a state level, Opposition frontbencher Anoulack Chanthivong, who was born in Laos, holds the south-west Sydney electorate of Macquarie Fields.

The Nationals member for Coffs Harbour Gurmesh Singh, a fourth-generation Australian of Indian heritage, comes from a Sikh family while the Greens member for Newtown Jenny Leong has Chinese heritage.

In its 2018 platform, Labor committed itself to ‘removing discrimination’ and striving to get more people from migrant backgrounds into Parliament.  

Senator Keneally's preselection, imposed by Labor's New South Wales general secretary Bob Nanva, also means she will be the candidate at the expense of talented lawyer Tu Le, 30, the daughter of Vietnamese refugees (she is pictured with Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese)

Senator Keneally’s preselection, imposed by Labor’s New South Wales general secretary Bob Nanva, also means she will be the candidate at the expense of talented lawyer Tu Le, 30, the daughter of Vietnamese refugees (she is pictured with Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese)

‘Labor policies will enable migrants and refugees to contribute to social, economic and political life by removing barriers to access and participation,’ clause 237 said.

Previous members for western Sydney electorates have lived in nicer suburbs on the other side of the city.

Ultra-marathon runner Pat Farmer lived at Mosman on the lower north shore despite representing the federal outer south-west Sydney seat of Macarthur for the Liberal Party.

Former NSW Labor premier Neville Wran, a Queen’s Counsel barrister, lived at Darling Point in the eastern suburbs even though he was the member for Bass Hill in south-west Sydney. 

Senator Keneally had an endorsement from former Labor prime minister Paul Keating, who was elected to Parliament at age 25 in 1969, in the south-west Sydney seat of Blaxland.

‘Local candidates may be genuine and well-meaning but they would take years to scramble to her level of executive ability – if they can ever get there at all,’ he told The Sydney Morning Herald.

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