Home General News Welcome to the most diverse parliament in Australia’s history

Welcome to the most diverse parliament in Australia’s history

by ervte

There is so much remarkable about the 47th Australian Parliament.

It is the most gender-equal Parliament in Australia’s history. Women will hold a record 41 percent of the 227 House of Representatives and Senate seats. These women are mainly in the Labor Party, the Coalition, the Greens, and an influential crossbench, including the “Teal” Independents.

4.4 percent of politicians are First Nations peoplesWelcome to the most diverse parliament in Australia's history

It is the most diverse Parliament in Australia’s history. A remarkable number of First Nations women have been elected. Linda Burney, Marion Scrymgour, Lidia Thorpe, Dorinda Cox, Malarndirri McCarthy, Jacinta Nampijinpa Price, Jana Stewart, and Jacqui Lambie.

Together with their male First Nations colleagues, we now have a total representation of 4.4 percent (with a national indigenous population of 3.3 percent) in the Senate and House of Representatives. We have even more diversity as there is also a record number of newly elected multicultural Australian representatives, with members born in or with ancestry from Asia.

The radical changes in our representatives indicate a liberalization of access and opportunity for more people. That’s why it’s arguably the most inclusive Parliament in Australia’s history.

As a result of these shifts, the 47th Parliament is arguably the most ‘representative’ Parliament we’ve ever had. Representation is an important feature of our Parliament. The 151 members of the House of Representatives represent voters of approximately the same number of voters. A candidate must convince voters that they truly represent the citizens’ views in their electorate.

In a country as diverse as ours, a more varied parliament – ​​with more women, more First Nations representatives, and representatives of other racial and cultural diversities and abilities should be the case. But that is often not the case because the power and influence mechanisms of politics (industry and religion) need time to catch up with the cultural shifts. Extreme electoral pressure made this Parliament more representative of our nation. It was “a telling of the truth” for those in power on gender, culture, and the environment.

Is there a theological way for Christians to think about these changes?

Given the tidal wave of women of great merit entering this 47th Parliament, our thoughts can immediately turn to historical accounts of strong and talented women in Scripture. Women like Miriam, a prophet sent from God (Micah 6:4); Deborah, the judge of noble character, who guided with such wisdom and authority (Judges 4,5); of the revered Huldah (2 Kings 22:13); of Noadiah, a prophetess in the days of Nehemiah (Neh 6:14), of the zealous Anna (Luke 2:36-37), of the famous daughters of Philip mentioned briefly in Acts 21:9 and more extensively by the early historian Eusebius (EH 3.37.1; EH 5.17.3).

Sarah, Miriam, Hannah, Abigail, Huldah, Esther, and others are also there. (I am grateful to the scholar Marg Mowczko for these lists). Then, there is the pioneering Mary, the businesswoman, and other women in the New Testament Church.

Of all these women, the words spoken about Esther seem most poignant to our women entering Parliament:

“And who knows but that for a time like this you came to your royal position?” (Esther 4:14, NIV)

Our nation faces a time of great crisis and change. The challenging prevalence of domestic and family violence is close to my heart. We need these strong women, and we need our men to give us the best response to the economic, political, and cultural challenges we face. The mere presence of so many women in Parliament should help change the narrative of how we are educating our young men and women to interact with each other and how we are exposing disrespect and sexism and creating a culture in this nation that is safe and equal.

First Nations Politicians, Stand Up! Stand up! Show up! Seeing so many First Nations people and women elected to Parliament is very pleasing. Every year NAIDOC has a theme. In 2022 the article was ‘Stand up! Stand up! Show up!’ In this election, we have seen many First Nations people rise to the challenge and realize the dreams of many. In 2018 the theme was “Through her, we can!” With so many First Nations women in our parliaments, we can have confidence in the role models these women provide for our First Nations youth and wider communities.

How wonderful that our 47th Parliament symbolizes diversity, equality, and inclusion. It should inspire us all.

Perhaps there is a broader theological reflection on the picture of heaven that Scripture gives us. We read that in heaven, there will be “a great multitude, which no man can number, out of every nation, tribe, people, and tongue” (Revelation 7:9). This idea of ​​heaven is diverse. The Christian gospel is a gospel of reconciliation and healing, where subjects are given the ministry of reconciling people to one another and God. The atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ was all-encompassing—for the sins of the whole world.

The gospel is good news that breaks the gulf between men and women, enslaved persons and free, Jew and Gentile (Galatians 3:28). Our churches cannot show this cheerful and diverse picture, despite our prayers that things on earth will be as they are heaven. But how wonderful our 47th Parliament symbolizes diversity, equality, and inclusion. It should inspire us all.

Pray for our elected officials.

For all its benefits, being a politician means taking a voluntary vow of vulnerability every three years. There are losses and gains in an election, and this election saw some outstanding candidates lose their seats. Our parliamentarians work hard, make many sacrifices, and are true servants of our nation. Let us be thankful for all of them and the blessings they give us in Parliament. May God bless those who lost their seats and open new doors to service after a time of well-deserved rest.

We give thanks for this country and the diversity of its people. Grant that we may honor each other so that everyone may be enriched by our common heritage and freed from despair, poverty, and exclusion.

For those who pray, this is a worthy prayer for Australia’s 47th Parliament.

Reverend Tracy Lauersen is an Anglican pastor in Victoria and the Convenor of the Church’s Family Violence Working Group.

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