opinion

Editorial: An election result for modern Australia

The West Australian
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Fatima Payman with Anthony Albanese before the election.
Camera IconFatima Payman with Anthony Albanese before the election. Credit: Facebook/Facebook

Today we bring you the unheralded story of the Federal election so far.

It is one that people have not yet really realised or thought about, with the days since the polls closed focussed on the change of government.

Now it is time to tell the story of Fatima Payman, and others like her who have now entered Australia’s political world.

The 27-year-old Muslim woman is currently leading the race to become WA’s newest Senator.

Ms Payman hardly fits the stereotype of an Australian Member of parliament. In fact, if she is elected, she will be the first Muslim woman who wears a hijab to sit in Federal parliament.

But, like many others who have been, or are likely to be, elected in his historic election, Ms Payman is part of the new cohort of elected Members who really do represent modern Australia.

Ms Payman was born in Kabul, Afghanistan, and came to Australia as a refugee when she was eight years old.

Her father had been involved in party politics in Afghanistan and her grandfather had been a Member of parliament, but the family fled their home country when the Taliban regime took over in the 1990s.

I’m no political hack, I haven’t gone through to law school or politics…I just happened to be passionate about worker’s rights and representation and multiculturalism

In Australia, Ms Payman’s father worked as a taxi driver, kitchenhand and security guard, while her mother set up a driving school, to support their family.

Having witnessed her parents’ struggles as new immigrants to Australia, Ms Payman became a union organiser at United Worker’s Union, which represents workers across dozens of industries including cleaners, aged care workers and childcare educators.

“I saw dad’s struggle echoed in the lives of so many other workers, especially those of migrant backgrounds where English is their second language and all they’re trying to do it make ends meet and just have it tough because they look different, sound different,” she said.

Ms Payman is currently ahead in the count to win WA’s sixth Senator spot, which she described as “crazy” and “unexpected”.

GEN WA Labor Senator Fatima Payman.
Camera IconFatima Payman is the 27-year-old Muslim woman who is currently leading the race to become WA’s newest Senator. Credit: Iain Gillespie/The West Australian

“I’m no political hack, I haven’t gone through to law school or politics…I just happened to be passionate about worker’s rights and representation and multiculturalism and I find myself here in a platform where that sort of change is possible,” she said.

What a refreshing change this young woman is.

It is easy to become cynical and jaded about politics, particularly after a long and frustrating election campaign.

Voters grew tired of sniping and personal attacks between the leading members of the two main parties being the focus of debates, rather than the policies and ideas affecting their lives.

Ms Payman summed it up well when she said the diversity of ALP candidates reflected the country as a whole.

“It’s just been so wholesome and just reflects what Australia truly is and the beauty of Australia,” she said.

Ms Payman’s story, and her likely elevation into the Senate, is one that she can be very proud of. This is modern Australia, for now and the future.

Responsibility for the editorial comment is taken by WAN Editor-in-Chief Anthony De Ceglie

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