Sunil Badami: Both major parties don’t seem to be looking after NSW families

Independent NSW candidate, Sunil Badami discusses why he chooses to contest with Elizabeth Farrelly Independents.

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Tell us a bit about yourself.

Sunil Badami: I’ve got a BA Hons (Communications) from the University of Technology, Sydney; a master’s in creative and Life Writing with Distinction (Goldsmiths); and a Doctor of Creative Arts in Creative Writing and Literary Theory from the University of Technology, Sydney. I have written for publications including The Sydney Morning Herald, Good Weekend, The Australian, The Monthly, The New Daily, The Australian Literary Review, Australian Gourmet Traveller, Westerly, Southerly, Island and Meanjin. My work’s been published in Australia and overseas. I devised, wrote, and presented the ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation) Local Radio show Sunday Takeaway, and I continue to appear regularly on ABC Local Radio, Radio National, Double J and ABC TV. 

What would you say are the three key issues concerning the voters this election? 

Sunil Badami: Top of the list is the cost of living. With the proliferation of toll roads, with increasing fruit and vegetable prices, with increasing rent and mortgage costs, it’s putting a lot of voters into what they call rental stress or mortgage stress, where more than a third of their income is going in just to have a place to live. So, Elizabeth Farrelly Independents is running on three key policies which are: livable communities to ensure every community in NSW in the bush, in the city and in the suburbs, enjoys the same amenities, the same facilities, the same transport and the same opportunities as everywhere else. 

Why politics? What convinced you to join the party of your choice? 

Sunil Badami: I would not be standing for politics, going to meetings, and working on the campaign trail, if it were not for the fact that, unfortunately, both major parties do not seem to be looking after my family or many families around NSW. They are only working for vested interests of big donors, who, as the old saying goes that ‘you pay the piper, you call the tune.’ Well, as long as a few big multinational companies are connected, and mates are calling the tune, we need to shake up the band. And that is why I am standing. I would love it if I could trust the government to do what is best for all of us. But unfortunately, I cannot. 

Elizabeth Farrelly Independents candidates
Source: Supplied

There’s been much discussion about better representation in politics: more women, more people of colour, more migrants. And yet high-profile mainstream politicians continue to be parachuted in, even in migrant-heavy seats. What are your thoughts here? 

Sunil Badami: The thing about diversity and inclusivity is it’s not simply a checklist that you tick off to look good. It is an opportunity to enrich and expand the discussion about issues affecting all of us. And how can we discuss the issues that are important to South Asian people, people of South Asian origin, if we do not have anyone of South Asian origin in Parliament to represent us? So, it is important. Whenever you only have one perspective, then you are going to end up missing so many others that could potentially make a difference and ensure that the policies and ideas that you must make the state better can involve all of us in that conversation. 

What do you think are the pressing needs of the Indian Australian / South Asian community? 

Sunil Badami: I think a lot of the issues that affect people of the South Asian community are the same issues that affect people from lots of different communities. We just want to have a place we can call our own, a place where we can worship in our own way, a place where we can feel comfortable to be ourselves. I grew up in Australia in the 1970s and ‘80s. And it was in the shadow of the White Australia Policy. Although there were tentative moves towards multiculturalism, we were not encouraged to speak our own language, or eat our own food or even dress. And I am so proud now to see so many young people of Indian origin and even older people like me, who are proud of being Indian or Pakistani or Sri Lankan; who are proud to celebrate their culture. 

Who inspires you? 

I love Barack Obama, because not only is he an inspiring speaker, and an intelligent person, you never see him get angry. He was always so calm. In Australia, John Curtin—Australia’s wartime Prime Minister, who fought, you know, despite having great ill health, and the difficulty of trying to keep Australia safe while Churchill wanted to divert resources away from us.  

What are you reading at the moment? Watching? Listening to?

My whole family sits together every Monday and gets totally freaked out by The Last of Us, which is the new zombie series starring Pedro Pascal and Bella Ramsay based on this bestselling video game.  

Any special message for the voters? 

My message would be this, if you want to change politics, and you want to ensure livable communities with better and fairer planning, amenity and facilities for everyone in NSW, wherever you are, whoever you are, not just those in marginal seats if you want real climate action, that ensures we can justly transition to low emission, high efficiency, low cost renewable energy that doesn’t leave anyone else behind and ensures we’ve got good food security, and that people are safe not being stranded out on floodplains or areas where there could be potential bushfires due to climate change, then vote for us so we can make a meaningful change for you. 

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