Anthony Albanese has insisted a former private schoolboy who lives in a $16million eastern Sydney mansion will relate to residents in diverse western Sydney as he unveiled him as Labor’s candidate for Parramatta.
The Opposition leader declared Andrew Charlton will be an ‘outstanding’ MP in a joint press conference in front of cheering members of the nurses and midwives union on Friday.
Hopeful candidate and union official Abha Devasia had warned Dr Charlton’s wealth and background made him unsuitable to run in an electorate with a high proportion of migrants.
Economist Andrew Charlton (pictured) has appeared on several TV shows. He has been selected to run as the Labor candidate for Parramatta
Opposition leader Anthony Albanese (pictured) declared Andrew Charlton will be an ‘outstanding’ MP
But Mr Albanese dismissed those concerns, saying: ‘I think Andrew will be able to not just relate to all of the people of Parramatta, but be an outstanding representative for them.
‘People who meet him are instantly are attracted towards his qualities.
‘I have been looking for a range of candidates across a range of seats that fulfil the sort of qualities that make up a good government. And we have a diverse range of candidates,’ he said.
Dr Charlton, an Oxford University trained economist and a managing director at Accenture Australia, was an advisor to Kevin Rudd when he was Prime Minister.
He said he wanted to make Parramatta a ‘hub’ for ‘high-paid, high-skilled jobs and strong small businesses’.
‘In many ways the future of Parramatta is the future of Australia and I look forward to presenting my plans for Parramatta to voters over the next few weeks and months,’ he said.
Back in June Dr Charlton declared Australia’s Covid-19 economic recovery marshalled by the Coalition to be ‘nothing short of extraordinary’.
‘The transformation has been remarkable. A year after the pandemic’s height we now have more Australians in work than we did before the pandemic,’ he told Sky News.
‘Youth unemployment in Australia right now is lower than it has been in the last 10 years.
‘We can look forward to some really positive conditions for workers.’
This is the mansion Dr Charlton bought in 2019 from Mamamia co-founders Mia Freedman and Jason Lavigne for $16million
Mr Charlton went to an elite upper north shore private school, Knox Grammar, that also produced former Labor prime minister Gough Whitlam and newspaper commentator Peter FitzSimons
Before Dr Charlton’s pre-selection was decided, Ms Devasia, a hard-left Labor Australian Manufacturing Workers’ Union legal co-ordinator, told the ABC: ‘I desperately want Labor to win but selecting a white, millionaire man from the eastern suburbs to run for Parramatta would be a tone-deaf choice and willfully disrespectful to our community.’
Julie Owens, from Labor’s soft left sub-faction who has held Parramatta since 2004, told Daily Mail Australia that Ms Devasia – who grew up in Ethiopia – expressed ‘a rather simplistic view, actually’.
‘Across the board, parliament has an issue that it doesn’t necessarily reflect who we are as a nation at this point,’ she said.
‘Parliament generally needs to swing but no particular electorate should be this or that – if we get this right, we’ll run a candidate of colour, of different cultural backgrounds in the Shire or in a regional seat.
A hard-left Labor preselection hopeful, Australian Manufacturing Workers’ Union legal co-ordinator Abha Devasia, has suggested Dr Charlton’s wealth and skin colour made him unsuitable to run in an electorate with a higher proportion of migrants
‘When it does reflect who we are, you won’t be saying this electorate has 30 per cent Chinese so therefore we run a Chinese candidate.’
Ms Owens also took issue with Ms Devasia bringing up Dr Charlton’s skin colour in a bid to make parliament more ethnically diverse.
‘The cultural background won’t be a hindrance anywhere and nor, by the way, will being a white, successful man be a hindrance,’ she said.
‘It’s a naïve position to think that only cultural diverse electorates should have culturally-diverse members – “You can’t run a white man in a culturally diverse electorate”.’
Dr Charlton went to an elite upper north shore private school, Knox Grammar, that also produced former Labor prime minister Gough Whitlam and newspaper commentator Peter FitzSimons.
Parramatta’s previous right-wing Liberal member Ross Cameron, who held the seat from 1996 to 2004, also went to Knox Grammar.
It comes after Labor parachuted Senator Kristina Keneally into the south-west Sydney seat of Fowler, covering Cabramatta, even though she lived 44km away on Scotland Island on the northern beaches.
Julie Owens, from Labor’s soft left sub-faction who has held Parramatta since 2004, and is now retiring
The managing director of economics consultancy AlphaBeta was previously an adviser to former prime minister Kevin Rudd during the Global Financial Crisis (he is pictured with his former boss in April 2010 shortly before Julia Gillard overthrew him as Labor prime minister)