Senator Kristina Keneally feared that she may be assigned to the third position on the Labor Senate ticket. The NSW Labor Right gifted her pre-selection for the seat of Fowler.
ABC research says that as of 2019, Fowler is the most economically disadvantaged electorate in Australia. It is more or less centred on Cabramatta in Sydney's west, but also extends to Liverpool, where I grew up.
When I was a kid, Liverpool was a prosperous working class and market gardening area with large factories on the Moorebank side of the Georges River providing well-paid, secure jobs.
Cabramatta and nearby Canley Vale hosted a great number of English migrants, with a mainly Italian and Yugoslav population away from the railway line where market gardens and chicken farms dominated.
Today in Fowler, 76.1 per cent of voters have both parents born overseas, with only 11 per cent having both parents born in Australia.
Very many of the voters are children of Vietnamese migrants who escaped at the end of the war in Vietnam. Others came from Iraq, Cambodia and China.
Into this apparently poverty-stricken area with 10 per cent unemployment steps well-heeled Kristina Keneally from exclusive Scotland Island near Sydney's northern beaches. Of course, Keneally says she is going to move there - swapping her mansion for a Cabramatta unit?
Today in Fowler, 76.1 per cent of voters have both parents born overseas …
Adding to Keneally's difficulties, retiring member Chris Hayes anointed a popular local, Vietnamese-Australian lawyer Tu Le. Her pictures show a young, smiling, appealing person who undoubtedly would have increased Labor's vote in this 67.49 per cent safe Labor seat.
The right-wing Spectator is scathing, saying Labor would have the multi-cultural voters of Fowler believe Keneally is also a 'celebrity' candidate to whom they should flock with arms outstretched.
She loves lecturing on "feminism, immigration, the economy, justice, the environment, human rights and even the language of politics," The Spectator adds.
The Spectator reminds us that, "The (NSW) Keneally government went on to suffer a catastrophic 16.5 point swing statewide in the 2011 state election. This was the biggest swing against a government in the nation's electoral history", and suffered "a humiliating defeat in the seat of Bennelong by-election, losing to Liberal John Alexander".
However, it is her comments on immigration that may become her stumbling block. In May last year, the Sydney Morning Herald carried an article written by Kristina Keneally entitled, "Do we want migrants to return in the same numbers? The answer is no".
I thought her observations about temporary migrants were sensible, but now, even the fact that she discussed scaling-back migration may prove to be a disadvantage in this high-migration seat.
Paragraphs like: "While Australia's high level of migration played a key role in our economic prosperity, in recent years, the shape and size of our intake has hurt many Australian workers, contributing to unemployment, underemployment and low wage growth". And, "... when we restart our migration program, do we want migrants to return to Australia in the same numbers and in the same composition as before the crisis? Our answer should be no."
The Conversation's article in response by senior economist Gabriela D'Souza says permanent migrants don't take Australian's jobs. "Australia's migration program is the envy of other countries," she writes. Many Fowler voters would agree with D'Souza and be suspicious of Keneally's feelings about their migrant past.
Jonathon Sri, Brisbane's first-ever Greens city councillor, is more likely to reflect voters' opinions in Fowler. In May 2020, Sri asked, "Was Keneally's migration diatribe fair dinkum racist?"
Sri doesn't want Keneally "cancelled" but says, "All I'm saying is that in this case, the arguments Kristina is advancing are based on racist premises, tend towards racist outcomes, and will have the effect of legitimising and emboldening racism in Australian public discourse.
Sri even asks is this, "De facto White Australia?" And, "... she supports harsher, militarised border policing to keep them out."
Whoa! Sri's Green views may be an extreme interpretation, but in the overseas-born electorate of Fowler, maybe her migrant stance could come back to bite her.
Instead of silvertail Kristina from Scotland Island, maybe Labor should have endorsed young up-and-coming local lawyer Tu Le in Fowler.