Ed Husic, Breaking Barriers in Politics and Technology

Ed Husic running for a third term as Labor candidate for Chifley

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Ed Husic running for a third term as Labor candidate for Chifley

Ed Husic has a stronghold on the seat of Chifley since being first elected to Parliament in 2010 on a Labor ticket.

Mr Husic is contesting the seat for a third term, after winning the election in 2013 by 61.19 per cent of the votes, and then in 2016 by 69.19 per cent.

He made history by becoming the first Muslim member of the Australian House of Representatives, and the first to be sworn in on the Quran. His Islamic faith was questioned and used against him since his initial candidacy in the 2004 elections.

“Ever since I was in public life, I’ve always had this, raising questions about my faith” he said at Rooty Hill Mosque last March.

Born in Western Sydney to Bosnian Muslim immigrant parents, the father of a 6 year old boy takes pride in his family’s ethnic, socio-economic and religious background. He sees his job as a way to serve the nation that extended generosity to his family.

Mr Husic says that his success is a reflection of the vast opportunities that Australia offers. He aspires to be an inspiration for young people from minorities, migrants, and people from different socio-economic backgrounds so that they too can strive towards their goals.

“The reason why it’s hard for me to believe I’m here is because my parents were a product of poverty,” Mr Husic said in 2018 as a response to senator Frazer Anning who called for ‘final solution’ on Muslim migration.

“They made it here in the late sixties, and Australia opened its doors to allow us to have the chance to be here. Like many migrant kids, I carry around a debt of gratitude to this country that we were able to achieve. I got to university… I now get to serve in this place. Regardless of my faith, the commitment to my community is the thing that I’m judged on,” he said.

His journey in politics has reconnected him to his faith and heritage, yet Mr Husic does not like to be described as a representative for Muslims, but rather as an MP who is a Muslim. “I just want to be a member of the House of Representatives, without being pigeonholed just because of my faith and being Muslim, that it’s the only time you ever speak to me,” he said during a 2019 interview with Sky News.

The presence of people from diverse backgrounds in all types of jobs is a crucial step to breaking the barriers between the local communities, and resolve misunderstandings and stereotypes. “It would be good to just be able normalise it, as in people from different faiths and backgrounds being in the public space,” he said.

Mr Husic has voted in favour for a range of issues including carbon tax, same-sex marriage, consumer protection, education funding, increasing trade union powers, to name a few.

Reforms on social media regulations, with the emergence of new challenges by these platforms such as terrorism and crime, has been of central interest to Mr Husic in recent years. “If we want to build communities that get along and let people live their lives free of fear and humiliation, let’s tackle those platforms [social media] …who allow people to promote hate and division,” he says on his Facebook page.

Mr Husic says the encryption law is a major concern. During the final sitting of parliament in 2018, the Telecommunications and Other Legislation Amendment (Assistance and Access) Act, also known as the TOLA Act or the encryption legislation, was passed after Labor withdrew their amendments and voted for the Bill.

Under the controversial legislation, telecommunication companies are to provide the encrypted data on voluntary or mandatory basis without the need for government security agencies to seek prior permission from courts to make the requests.

Mr Husic argues that the encryption law is a threat to the Australian digital economy as foreign investors are finding Australia a less attractive location for business due to the applied retractions. Digital enterprises are largely based on trust that the company is able to protect the privacy and information of customers.

While Labor understands the need to provide security agencies with a degree of power, “encryption as much as it’s framed in national security terms it’s also about economic security,” Mr Husic said addressing parliament.

During the Mindfields Automation Summit last November, Mr Husic discussed issues related to the Australian technology sector and the Government’s responsibility to invest in and support this sector. “Instead of lurching away from that challenge, it’s better for us to actually prepare, deal with them head on and do things in a way that will maximise benefit in the long term,” he said.

Technology, he believes, is a crucial tool that is not utilised to its full potential by the government, due to under skills in the industry, the impact on labour markets, as well as ethical issues that arise with the implementation of new technologies.

In 2013, Mr Husic was promoted as Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister and Parliamentary Secretary for Broadband. He held a number of roles including Government Whip, and Shadow Minister for Employment Services and Workforce Participation. He currently serves as the Shadow Minister for Digital Economy and Shadow Minister for Human Resources.

He also worked in the office of the former Chifley MP Rodger Price, in addition holding other roles in the Electrical and Plumbing Union, the NSW Young Labor executive and in Integral Energy before running for the federal elections.