Labor MP Dr Anne Aly, who grew up in the electorate and was the first Muslim woman elected to the Australian Parliament, on Saturday blasted the decision to parachute Senator Keneally into the seat.
“Diversity, equality and multiculturalism can’t just be a trope that Labor pulls out and parades while wearing a sari and eating some kung pao chicken to make ourselves look good,” she told the ABC on Saturday.
“For the Labor Party to be in a position where they are pushing aside a community representative from one of the most multicultural electorates is hypocrisy as far as I’m concerned.”
Ms Le has also expressed disappointment she would miss out on the chance to run in the seat, given 15 per cent of people in the electorate are of Vietnamese origin.
“Our diverse communities should be reflected in the Australian parliament,” she told The Australian.
But speaking outside The Vietnamese Community Cultural Centre in Bonnyrigg on Saturday, Ms Keneally said she was disappointed in some reactions to her move.
“This is a community I will live in, I will love and I will represent,” she said.
“I know how to fight for communities like this.
“It’s why I’ve gone into politics and that is why, come the next election, I want to go into the House of Representatives, as the voice of every family, every small business, every faith community in Fowler.”
The former NSW premier also defended the party’s record on multiculturalism, flanked by two representatives of the local Vietnamese community.
“If you look across south-western Sydney you’ve got MPs Ed Husic, Michelle Rowland (and) Mike Freelander,” she said.
“I’m proud to be part of a party that supports gender diversity and that supports multicultural diversity.”
Party leader and close ally Anthony Albanese on Saturday also backed Ms Keneally.
“Kristina Keneally is an important part of our shadow cabinet and after the next election, I’m sure she’ll be an important part of our cabinet,” he told reporters on Saturday.
“I’m very proud to lead a diverse team, an effective team, and a team that will be able to lead our nation.”
Senator Keneally, who is Labor’s deputy leader in the upper house, had been facing an uncertain future.
Fellow right faction member Deborah O’Neill received strong support to take top spot on Labor’s NSW Senate ticket at the next election.
With the left’s Jenny McAllister taking second position, Ms Keneally would likely have been relegated to the hard-to-win third spot.
Labor has not won three seats in NSW at a regular half-Senate election since Kevin Rudd swept to power in 2007.