South Asians gain as Liberals and Labor play money-matching “community centre” game

14 May 2019: Shadow minister for citizenship and multicultural Australia, Tony Burke, yesterday announced that a Shorten Labor Government would provide $2.5 million to South Asian communities in Australia to build community facilities.

“The South Asian community is a significant and growing community in Australia. This funding will mean they can build new facilities or modernise existing ones,” Mr Burke said in a press statement, “This election is a choice between a united Shorten Labor Government investing in our community or more cuts and chaos under the Liberals.” 

Mr Burke’s commitment was of course a money-matching response to an earlier announcement made by Member for Banks, David Coleman. The Minister for Immigration, Citizenship and Multicultural Affairs had over the weekend committed to provide $1 million to the “Nepalese Australian Association” if the Morrison Government got re-elected.

“The Morrison Government is committed to maintaining, promoting and preserving Nepalese-Australian culture, history and traditions,” Mr Coleman said in the press statement.

“The new centre will be a central meeting place for the Nepalese community in Sydney – a place where they can promote rich Nepalese culture, heritage and world-famous hospitality to new migrants and the wider Australian community,” Mr Coleman’s statement further reads.

NAA, the organisation Liberal says the funding would be awarded to, is said to be the first Nepalese community organisation in Australia. Another organisation of the Nepalese diaspora in Australia, NRNA Australia, is however more structured and bigger organisation with nearly 12,000 members across Australia although many have recently questioned the way this impressive membership has been generated.

Some members of the Nepalese community have also questioned why Pramej Shrestha, the Liberal candidate for Barton, was not given the opportunity of making the announcement for his own party’s decision to fund $1 million for the Nepalese community centre – if the Morrison Government is re-elected. That would have been more pertinent, they argue

In a number of Facebook comments, father of the 26-year-old Liberal candidate, has lambasted members of his own Nepalese community who he appears to accuse of trying to undermine and double-cross Pramej Shrestha’s fight against his more experienced opponent, Linda Burney.

In addition to the community centre funding, Labor has also pitched “a cheaper and fairer long stay parent visa, uncapped and open to both sets of parents” which many members of the migrant communities find appealing. “Modern Australia and multicultural Australia are the same thing. Labor is proud to support community groups and we know that society is stronger because of our diversity,” Labor pitched to the voters from immigrant communities.

All in all, the upcoming election is certain to have two winners – the election winning political party plus the South Asian communities that are set to get their community halls no matter which party wins the polls.

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