Indian Australian community in western Sydney and its importance in electoral politics

Sydney/18th March, 2016

Next federal election for Australian Commonwealth Parliament will be held later this year. If the Turnbull Government goes for the double dissolution of the Parliament, then this election may happen as early as July. If not, then they will happen in September-October. Opinion polls are indicating a tough contest between Bill Shorten-led Australian Labor Party (ALP) and Malcolm Turnbull-led Coalition of Liberal Party & National Party. Significant lift in the numbers for the Coalition in the opinion polls after Malcolm Turnbull became the Prime Minister has largely drifted away from the Coalition. There are multiple reasons for it and these reasons are well known. Honeymoon period for the new Prime Minister is well and truly over. Lack of policy clarifications and policy direction are also relevant. Western suburbs of Melbourne and Sydney have many seats which are classed as marginal, where a small change of voting can deliver these seats to either party. If ALP wins many of these seats, Bill Shorten will become the Prime Minister. The Coalition will need to hold on to many of these seats if they want to form the next Government. They definitely have a tight contest.

People in the Western suburbs of Sydney and Melbourne, like similar areas in other cities, are doing tough, with higher unemployment, cost of living pressure and poverty. These factors often lead to higher level of dissatisfaction and willingness to change the voting pattern. Their votes are up for the grab.

Newer migrants and people who can’t afford to buy expensive houses in Northern and Eastern Sydney, find Western Sydney as a place where they can find houses within their reach. In regards to Indian Australians in NSW, it is well known that this community has a significant presence in Western Sydney. Suburbs like Parramatta and Blacktown have a large number of Indian Australian families. “Singh” was the most common surname in Blacktown a few years ago. Strathfield and some area in South West Sydney in/around Liverpool also have a significant Indian Australian presence.

No party can ignore this community anymore. This fact is now well known and is evident from the efforts by both major parties to work with our community over the last 5 years. ALP had formed a group from our community in 2010, calling it Subcontinent Friends of Labor (SCFOL) and Liberals networked with this community, forming Liberal friends of India (LFI) around 2011-12. Both parties, when in government, have worked to develop better relations with India. While Prime Minister, John Howard (the Coalition) was the one who decided to sell Uranium to India in 2007, it was Prime Minister Julia Gillard (ALP) who managed to reverse ALP’s opposition to Uranium sale to India in 2012, despite India’s refusal to sign Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT). Both parties have made active efforts to network with Indian Australians too. It is an undeniable fact that none of the major parties can ignore Indian Australians in Western Sydney  if they want to win these seats.

With my interactions with Indian Australians, it is clear to me that reaching out by political parties plays a significant role during elections, even though the issues in NSW are not different for us when compared with those for the general community. Our voting behaviour should generally be similar to the general community, but networking by political parties and outreach by their apparatus and operatives can play an important role.  Having said that, I think it would be prudent to make a comment or two here about the efforts by political parties to develop better relations with our community.

ALP started the process of active networking with our community by forming SCFOL Unfortunately, the group was led, and continues to be led, poorly. They controlled and continue to control, some of the community associations, which, unsurprisingly, damaged these associations. Nobody listens to these community associations today and these associations are irrelevant for our community. SCFOL was not inclusive and left out many prominent ALP members from our community, as a manifestation of Right Vs Left factional politics. Its first president did not appear to have a good understanding of Indian community. He came from a Union background and ran a smear campaign against many people just because he did not like them, had disagreement with them or those people did not agree with his style and brand of politics. Division, not inclusion, was his “Mantra” to serve his factional interests. It is beyond me why a group of Indian ALP members will run a vicious campaign against one of the Indian sub-continental persons (Susai Benjamin) from the same party. Obviously, it was an outcome of Right Vs Left ALP factional politics. Treachery and disloyalty are generally a part and parcel of political parties. I was not surprised therefore to know that the founder president was removed recently, and quite acrimoniously, leading to hostility and animosity between key members of the group. The new president of SCFOL, in my view, does not have the necessary ability or capacity to lead effectively. He is a light weight figure, when compared to former SCFOL president, as far as ALP connections are concerned. No surprise to see that the new president and few other equally ineffective leaders of SCFOL did not get any importance during Bill Shorten’s recent visit to Revesby Gurdwara, while the ex-president had the ears and eyes of the federal leader. Whether you like him or not, he (ex-president) was, in my view, more networked and effective as the SCFOL leader. SCFOL needs to be reviewed and revamped.

Liberals had shown their interests in developing good networking with Indian Australians a few years ago, but, later, appeared to have lost interest in such networking. During the O’Farrell Government time, only one person was taken as the Indian community, solely because he was a personal friend of the Premier. Everybody else was ignored. Sadly, this particular person never had any networking with Indian community. Currently, Liberal ministers seems to think that a marketing woman from Indian community, who has charmed her way into the Liberal network, is the key person for the networking with Indian community.  Liberals are either naïve or they don’t care, if they believe this to be the case. Little do they understand that her key focus is her business interests, just like she did with ALP ministers. Federal and state Liberal leaders used to be seen in Indian community events, but this seems to have become less frequent. One pleasant thing however is that some from amongst our community with high-sounding but false positions after their names, and without matching credentials, are not in the inner network of Liberals anymore. It’s a big relief. These people are only for themselves and with their ugly antics, causing shame to themselves and our community. They were using photographs with high profile Liberal politicians to promote their business interests in fleecing money from gullible people. What is needed is the revamping and strengthening of LFI. Like SCFOL, it must be supported by key government ministers and Party officials, if it were ever to get traction in the community. Its key members from our community should be those who have good networking and are decent people, not those who are into exploitation and fleecing of the vulnerable people of our community. Those who sold work experience certificates, arranged fake marriages or arrange or sell 457 visa in return for cash should be kept away from LFI. In contrast to SCFOL, I haven’t heard much about LFI for some considerable time. I am not sure if it is still active. Obviously, LFI should become more active, and visible, if Liberals are keen for the votes and support from our community. It is in their interest to do so if they want to change the current 60:40 voting pattern against Liberal party, and in favour of ALP, as far as our votes are concerned. Improving the networking with our community is a no-brainer.

If I have an advice for ALP and the Coalition, and they listen to it, I will advise them to revamp these groups and go beyond SCFOL and LFI to network with our community. SCFOL and LFI represent a minuscule part of the community. After all, both of them need to have a large and productive network in the community to influence voting behaviour in their favour.

We, as a community, need to do a lot more to be a significant player in politics and political processes of Australia. We must work together in getting some, albeit only good ones, from our community in the local Councils and Parliaments. They must not be those who are into unethical, and illegal, activities like underpaying employees, taking or arranging 457 visa in return for cash or selling work experience for visa purposes. Such people are obviously so keen to be photographed with politicians, simply because it helps their business models and scares the victims from putting complaints. Political leaders must stay away from them and push them away into garbage bins, where they justifiably belong. It’s undeniable that we need to join political parties. Our numbers in Western Sydney are our strength and similarly our numbers in political parties will be our strength as well. One thing more. We must ensure that only good people from amongst us are supported for these roles in politics. Nobody with sub-standard qualities and ethics is encouraged. We don’t need Indian style politics in Australia. We will need to be careful, proactive and determined to not allow undesirable people with poor value system to succeed in their pursuit of selfish interests.

Finally, our support and votes for any party or candidate must be based on policies, principles and quality of the leadership. We must not allow anyone to fool us. Our votes should never be for someone who is not deserving of our votes.

Yadu Singh/Sydney/18 March, 2016
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Proud and privileged to be in the list of “Goldmine” leaders from the Western Sydney!

The Daily Telegraph Newspaper published a list of key people from Western Sydney, calling them “Goldmine” leaders!

I feel proud and privileged to be included in this list! Image

I must admit that it was a humbling experience to see my name in this list of great people.

Here is the article from The Daily Telegraph newspaper! http://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/newslocal/competitions/fair-go-for-the-west-meet-the-goldmine-leaders/story-fngy6zqs-1226881501042

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Fair Go for the West: Meet the goldmine leaders!

Sydney’s West is a goldmine of single-minded leaders who would rather make a difference than make excuses. 

Whether it be building some of Australia’s most successful businesses, mentoring new arrivals to the West, leading sports teams worth cheering for or simply breeding the best darn chickens you’ll taste, they are making Sydney a better place.

 

Paul Lederer

Paul Lederer runs Primo Smallgoods at Chullora.

Paul Lederer runs Primo Smallgoods at Chullora. Source: News Limited

 

The Primo Group chief executive has transformed a Hungarian family tradition of smoking meats into a $1.4 billion international enterprise run from Chullora with 4000 employees.

Estimated to hold a personal fortune of $630 million, he will indulge his passion for soccer when he takes control of the Western Wanderers from July 1, leading a new ownership team including Pirtek founder Peter Duncan and Filipino-Chinese businessman Jefferson Cheng.

 

Katie Page and Gerry Harvey,

Harvey Norman chief executive and chairman

This dynamic duo have been working and playing hard in Western Sydney since Harvey Norman opened its Auburn store in 1982.

The Harvey Norman business, of which Harvey is chairman and Page CEO, now has eight stores in the West, employing more than 1400 locals.

Harvey, who went to high school in Katoomba, is also Australia’s biggest horse breeder, while Page’s passions include the West’s exotic food and restaurant scene. They live in the northwest.

Harvey Norman chairman Gerry Harvey with managing director and wife Katie Page.

Harvey Norman chairman Gerry Harvey with managing director and wife Katie Page. Source: News Limited

 

 

Jihad Dib

For eight years, the Punchbowl Boys High School principal has been inspiring his students to lift their sights.

The results are easy to see. The school where drug gangs once ruled and barbed wire topped the fences now wins educational awards.

While only a handful of year 12 boys once thought about going to university each year, now about a third of the class go on and many more do vocational training.

Dib was able to joke recently that the school may be getting too soft when a fight broke out over hand cream.

Jihad Dib with students out the front of Punchbowl Boys High School

Jihad Dib with students out the front of Punchbowl Boys High School Source: News Limited

 

 

Raelene Castle

Since becoming the first female to lead an NRL club eight months ago, Canterbury Bankstown Bulldogs CEO has won respect as a no-nonsense operator focused on instilling an honest, hardworking culture.

As she builds the Bulldogs’ appeal to the families and businesses of the West, she has shown a strict attitude to player behaviour and doesn’t tolerate fools — as Cronulla’s Andrew Fifita recently discovered when Canterbury terminated his $3.5 million deal after some ill-chosen comments.

New Canterbury Bulldogs CEO Raelene Castle pictured at Bemore Oval.

New Canterbury Bulldogs CEO Raelene Castle pictured at Bemore Oval. Source: News Limited

 

 

Nick Moraitis has built a huge fresh produce business in the west.

Nick Moraitis has built a huge fresh produce business in the west. Source: News Limited

Cate Sydes, Marist Youth Care CEO.

Cate Sydes, Marist Youth Care CEO. Source: News Limited

Nick Moraitis

 

The Moraitis Group founder has worked in the West for 60 years, building a multifaceted food empire with revenues pushing $1 billion.

Through his partnership with fellow western tycoon Paul Lederer, he recently joined forces with Hungry Jacks’ founder Jack Cowin to produce salads and fresh soups for major retailers.

“The West is full of talented people but we need more businesses based here and more jobs,’’ said Moraitis, 79, who owned champion thoroughbred Might and Power.

 

Cate Sydes

The Marist Youth Care CEO is Western Sydney’s Good Samaritan, having worked with those on Struggle St since helping Aboriginal children in Mount Druitt 30 years ago.

Based at Blacktown, she leads one of Australia’s largest service providers for youth at risk.

“I’ve always been drawn to kids and young people in need,” says Sydes, who lost both of her parents while still in her teens. “My dream is that one day I’ll be out of work.’’

 

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Tony Shepherd

From advising the PM on how to get our national finances under control to building Western Sydney freeways and a new sports franchise, the diminutive Greater Western Sydney Giants chairman is a serious power player.

As the outgoing Business Council of Australia president and former chairman of construction giant Transfield Services, he has a contact book than sprawls from west to east, as evidenced by his recent appointment as chair of the SCG Trust.

 

Jim Marsden

Described by “Mr Olympics” Rod McGeoch as the “smartest man in the west”, the Marsdens Law Group senior partner has been at the centre of Campbelltown life since growing up in the local pub.

Whether it be handling the legal affairs of the region’s business elite or personally lobbying NRL chief Dave Smith to settle a team (ie his beloved Wests Tigers) in Campbelltown, Marsden is a passionate advocate of the southwest, where he has raised his four children.

He still gets a chuckle out of his late brother John Marsden’s famous quip: “There are two great cities in the world — Rome and Campbelltown.’’

 

Louise Cordina

The Cordina family have been feeding Australia “cage-free” chicken since pioneering the concept in the 1950s.

The 34-year-old is the first fourth-generation member of the Cordinas to help lead the family’s famous business with her father John. It is now one of the top 100 family-owned firms in the nation.

She grew up next door to the family’s Girraween factory and adopts a typically unpretentious Western Sydney style, saying: “We have never had aspirations to be out there being the biggest.’’

John and Louise Cordina.

John and Louise Cordina. Source: News Limited

 

 

Lyall Gorman

The Wanderers chairman tapped into Western Sydney’s passion and energy to create the A-League soccer franchise.

Gorman, highly rated by soccer supremo Frank Lowy, leads a board which includes distinguished Australian-Chinese businessman Benjamin Chow and influential Aboriginal leader Warren Mundine.

“One of our major goals is to be a catalyst for true social change across western Sydney — part of that is inspiring young people to be the absolute best they can be,’’ he says.

Executive Chairman Lyall Gorman.

Executive Chairman Lyall Gorman. Source: AAP

 

 

Christopher Brown

When the history is written of how an airport finally came to be built at Badgerys Creek, at least once chapter should be devoted to Brown.

As a member of the federal government’s panel that recommended Badgerys, the Parramatta-bred tourism advocate kept talking when others didn’t want to listen. He was also one of the first to talk up his home town as a genuine CBD.

Today, he chairs the Eels Round Table Forum and sits on the board of the University of Western Sydney and the Moorebank Intermodal Company.

 

Grant O’Brien

The electrical apprentice who rose to become CEO of supermarket giant Woolworths, headquartered in north-western Sydney’s Bella Vista, still keeps a focus on the workers of tomorrow.

O’Brien leads 190,000 employees, but is spearheading a major youth employment initiative called Generation Success to find ways to give more young people improved career prospects.

 

Jeremy Donovan

Jeremy Donovan Source: Supplied

Jeremy Donovan

 

Donovan, an internationally renowned didgeridoo player, was tapped last year to become the national ambassador in mining magnate Andrew Forrest’s GenerationOne indigenous initiative when Warren Mundine stepped down as CEO.

The 34-year-old, who is raising four children at Mulgoa, near Penrith, is part of the new breed of indigenous leaders who believes lives are only transformed through education and work, not welfare dependency.

 

Lionel Lee

The grandson of Chinese immigrant Bing Lee runs what has become the largest privately held electrical retail business in NSW with more than 40 stores visited by 120,000 people a week.

Old Guilford continues to serve as Lee’s corporate headquarters, harking back to the company’s early days in Fairfield selling black and white TVs to new immigrants who did not have a credit rating.

 

Rawand Al-Hinti

The Jordanian-born 21-year-old has been identified as one of the West’s articulate young voices.

“I believe if you work hard and aim for success you’ll flourish regardless of what suburb you are from or what school you went to,’’ she says.

The Macarthur Girls High School vice-captain, who mentors other university students while studying law and international relations, was recently appointed to the NSW government’s Youth Advisory Council.

 

Stuart Ayres

The enthusiastic Liberal MP for Penrith is winning praise since being promoted to become Premier Barry O’Farrell’s Minister for Western Sydney late last year.

The 33-year-old, who is the partner of federal Liberal Senator Marise Payne, has helped drive the government’s decision to relocate more than 3000 bureaucrats to western Sydney and understands the urgent need to create jobs and build new houses.

 

David Borger

The former Labor State Minister and Parramatta Mayor remains a strong campaigner for change as Sydney Business Chamber’s Western Sydney director.

“It sometimes feels like those in the east aren’t interested in the west and that’s a problem,’’ he said in his typically frank style last October.

James and Gretel Packer have sought his advice in relation to their $30 million arts gift to the West.

 

Barney Glover

The newly appointed University of Western Sydney Vice-Chancellor has wasted little time settling in, winning in-principle approval from his board this week to build a major campus in Parramatta’s CBD.

The former VC at Charles Darwin University will work closely in his new role with the UWS’ well-connected Chancellor Peter Shergold.

 

Yadu Singh

The Indian Australian Association of NSW president set up shop as a cardiologist in Baulkham Hills soon after arriving from India in 1991.

He has been writing and speaking passionately ever since as a leader of Australia’s — and Western Sydney’s — fastest-growing immigrant group.

His 12,400 Twitter followers are rarely left in doubt about his views, whether it be his advocacy on behalf of Indian students, his defence of Australia against claims it is racist or his support of a Western Sydney airport.

 

Tony Perich

The son of Croatian immigrants, the Greenfields Development Co managing director is turning dairy country into up-market housing developments in the buzzing southwest.

Estimated by BRW to be worth more than $850 million, the Perich family was once the biggest dairy farmer in the southern hemisphere through its Leppington Pastoral Company.

The family’s assets include the iconic former Oran Park raceway where at least 5500 houses and units are being developed, along with the biggest Woolworths in Australia.

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The End

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Dr Yadu Singh/Sydney/23rd April, 2014

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