Thursday, January 28, 2021

Rare sightings

Reading Time: 2 minutes

PAWAN LUTHRA on NSW Premier as he completes a year in office

- Advertisement -

Premier Barry O’Farrell seemed to be on the right track when he electioneered with his strategy to increase NSW’s engagement with India through the power of the local Indians living here. Sadly, one year after assuming power, he has done little to harness this energy and seems to have lost interest in the local Indian community.

Two months prior to the election in March 2011, there was a buzz at the January 26 Republic Day flag hoisting ceremony at Consul General Amit Dasgupta’s residence when Mr O’Farrell popped in unexpectedly. While there was muted debate about ‘gate crashing’ on India’s national day, to the hundreds who had gathered there, it was a great opportunity to shake hands with NSW’s Premier-in-waiting. The then opposition leader was a man on a mission, seen at all Indian get-togethers as he set about winning the hearts and minds of the NSW’s Indian Australians. A number of low-key functions were thrust into the spotlight as Mr O’Farrell confirmed his attendance with a selected entourage. With his speeches relating to the growing importance of India and his desire to connect with Indians here, he won the approval of the community who were looking for a change from the ongoing peccadilloes of the state Labor government. There was an expectation that when Mr O’Farrell came to power, he would work with the community towards helping them achieve some of their cherished goals, like assistance in procuring a venue to establish an Indian centre.

Twelve months on, the new Premier is nowhere to be seen. While earlier his presence took him to various places in outer western Sydney to meet and greet local Indians, his Indian links now seem to be restricted to the more salubrious gatherings at five star events and the Sydney Cricket Ground. While his Minister for Multicultural Affairs has been extremely accessible to the Indian community, there has been limited advancing of issues Indian in mainstream NSW. Acknowledging that these things take time, 12 months on, it is disappointing to note that little progress has been made to reach out to NSW Indian Australians at a more grassroots level.

There are still at least three more years to go, and during this time it will be terrific to note greater engagement.

A visit to India soon after the election was a welcome sign. A Ministerial Consultative Committee (MCC) for the Indian community was established in early November 2011 to advise Victor Dominello, Minister for Citizenship and Communities on behalf of the NSW Government, on the needs, interests and concerns of Australians of Indian heritage in NSW. The state’s Multicultural Business Summit was held  in December 2011, and it will be interesting to note any progress from these various committees.

Meanwhile, it will be good to note and acknowledge more sightings of the Premier at various Indian gatherings; he did once profess his love for naan and butter chicken, a staple offering at all Indian gatherings in Sydney.

- Advertisement -

Related Articles


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here


Ep8: Indian links in Indigenous Australian poet Ali Cobby Eckermann’s life

To celebrate NAIDOC week 2020 (between 8-15 November) I spoke to Yakunytjatjara poet Ali Cobby Eckermann about her time in India where she taught...

Ep 7: In the case of Sushant Singh Rajput

  The torrid and high-octane Sushant Singh Rajput case has been fodder for Indian people and press for the last few months. The actor’s tragic...

Ep 6: The Indian LGBTQ+ community in 2020

  It’s been two years since the world’s largest democracy repealed the draconian Section 377 which used to allow discrimination against homosexual people. Only this...

Latest News

wagah border ceremony

WATCH: Attari-Wagah Border Ceremony on India’s 72nd Republic Day

  It's always a sight to behold - watching the daily military practice between Indian and Pakistani forces at the Attari-Wagah border, made special on...
President Joe Biden

Huge relief for spouses of H1B workers in the US

  "Withdrawn". A single word on a thick bureaucratic file on the seventh day of the Biden administration delivered a huge win for spouses of...
kamala's way biography by dan moraine

Book Review: ‘Kamala’s Way’ by Dan Morain

  Just how did the daughter of two immigrants in segregated California became one of this countrys most effective power players? Through the human touch,...
farmers protest, delhi, red fort, flags

Farmers rage in Delhi on Republic Day

  On the morning of Republic Day, farmers were warmly welcomed in Delhi. As pictured below, tractors and cars carrying groups of protesters were showered...
Jeet Ki Zid movie poster

Review: Jeet Ki Zid (Zee5)

  It's easy to like Jeet Ki Zid. The show talks of patriotism and valour, it celebrates will power to triumph against all odds. Importantly,...