Queen’s Birthday Honours 2022: Brisbane’s Gurpreet Pinky Singh, OAM

Service to the community through a range of roles.

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When Brisbane bus driver Manmeet Alisher was killed in a senseless attack by a passenger, the community uproar that followed set Gurpreet Pinky Singh thinking.

“There were no answers forthcoming from the government for us to deal with this incident, or even heal,” she recalled as she spoke with Indian Link. “I realised there’s no point merely raising your voice from the sidelines. You’ve got to be in the system to make a difference.”

It propelled her to dip her toes into active politics and seek representation. She was selected as a Liberal candidate for the 2020 Queensland elections in the Central Brisbane electorate of McConnel.

She secured 38% of the vote, losing out to the ALP’s high-profile Grace Grace, the state’s Education Minister.

Today she continues her participation in Liberal Party affairs, in her roles as Multicultural Chair of Liberal National Party Women since 2018 and Policy Chair of Immigration, Citizenship and Multicultural Affairs since 2021.

Considering the recent Federal elections in which it became obvious that the Liberal Party needs serious reform in its attitude to and treatment of women, Gurpreet would not be drawn into discussions that her organisation is “bloke centric”.

“All women, not just women of colour, have had it tough for a long time,” she said emphatically. “Look, I’m here, aren’t I? They gave me an opportunity, and while it may not have been a winnable seat, I received all the support and backing I needed then.”

She added, “I’ve also come in close contact with other wonderful women through my association with the Liberal Party, such as Jacinta Nampijinpa Price of the Northern Territory, who I consider a mentor and friend.”

Before she entered politics, Gurpreet was already a well-known name in Brisbane’s Indian community, for her active role in public affairs. She has been founding president of the Punjabi Welfare Association of Australia since 2016, an active member of the Indian Prestige Lions Club since 2018, and has recently taken on an advisory role with the Indian Council of Australia Queensland.

Her successful small businesses alongside her entrepreneur husband Mohinder Singh also gave her high community profile.

Why politics, we asked her.

“I’d say politics picked me rather than the other way round,” Gurpreet laughed. “To work for the community, or for those that need help, has been part of the values instilled in me since childhood. I watched my mum and aunties in the gurudwaras, devoting long hours for selfless work. My mum did even more as an Indian Air Force wife. So you could say it was a natural progression.”

She recounted also an early Australian experience in fundraising, when she plunged headlong into providing for a family with a quadriplegic child. It set her on to community work in her adopted country.

“I’m humbled and honoured to receive the OAM this year,” Gurpreet, a mum of three, said. “I’m grateful for the many opportunities I’ve had to be able to give back to the community.”

Will she consider a role in active politics again? Surely she must be buoyed by the performance of women candidates in the 2022 election (a good number of them women of colour), and by the way it has shown that women cannot be ignored in an election.

She reflected for a moment, and then smiled cheekily as she replied, “I’m a never-say-never kind of person!”

READ ALSO: Dr Smita Shah OAM: Queen’s Birthday Honours 2022

Rajni Anand Luthra
Rajni Anand Luthra
Rajni is the Editor of Indian Link.

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