With less than half of the electorate reporting Australian ancestry, and about 20 per cent with Chinese heritage, the Chisholm electorate is amongst the country’s most racially diverse districts.
Created in 1949, the electorate of Chisholm was named after early female social worker and advocate for the political rights of women and children, Caroline Chisholm.
The electorate is has been represented by a woman for much of the past 36 years, including the past three years with Julia Banks the sitting member. For the first time in Australian history, the two main candidates contesting the seat in the upcoming election are both females of Asian descent.
Located in Melbourne’s eastern suburbs, the residential electorate of Chisholm covers about 65square kilometres and includes the suburbs of Box Hill, Blackburn, Burwood and Ashwood. Parts of Surrey Hills, Forest Hill, Glen Waverley, Mount Waverley and Chadstone also sit in the electorate, which is large enough to include sections of both the Monash City Council and the City of Whitehorse.
Recent redistributions of the electorate boundaries saw the redrawing of the southern boundary along Waverly Rd, losing some typically Labor voting suburbs to the new Hotham electorate.
It also saw the gain of typically Liberal-voting Glen Waverley from the Bruce electorate, which strengthens the likelihood of the Liberal party taking the seat from a 1.2 per cent margin to an estimated 3.4 per cent margin.
This is significant as the seat had been a Labor-held seat for 18 years until the people of Chisholm elected Banks, a Liberal Party member at the time, in 2016.
Banks was the only candidate for the governing Liberal-National coalition to win a seat held by Labour in the 2016 election. However, controversially she made the decision to quit the party late last year following the leadership spill which saw Scott Morrison replace Malcolm Turnbull as PM.
Banks’ said her resignation cames after frustration with both the Liberal and Labor parties’ treatment of women in politics, with claims of bullying and sexism. According to Banks, “across both major parties, the level of respect for women in politics is years behind the business world”.
Hong Kong-born Gladys Lui has been preselected by the Victorian Liberals to contest the marginal seat against Labor’s Taiwan-born Jennifer Yang.
It is the first time in Australian history, that two Chinese heritage candidates are contesting a seat in the lower house.
Both women represent the electorate’s diverse population, with 44 per cent of residents born overseas, 43 per cent of residents speaking another language other than English at home, and one fifth of voters in the electorate speaking Mandarin.
First time candidates Liu and Yang were apart of Australia’s first political debate held in dual languages – both women spoke in English and Mandarin.
Held in Glen Waverley, the debate gave both candidates the opportunity to deliver their campaign messages and answer questions in both languages.
Organiser of the debate, William Dong, said both candidates were excellent Chinese Australian politicians and having them participate in the debate promotes more Chinese Australian interest in mainstream politics.
“Gladys Liu has Hong Kong spirit and Jennifer has the style of the Republic of China. They are the best Chinese Australian politicians. We decided to host the debate because we want to promote more Chinese Australia concern about Australian politics,” Dong said.
Both candidates have used Chinese social media platform WeChat in the battle to get more votes during their election campaigns.
WeChat has been described as the Chinese Facebook, with Liu taking credit for the WeChat campaign she organised during the 2016 election believing it was responsible for helping Banks win the seat.
Yang’s campaign focuses on climate change and moving to renewable energy, greater funding for health and education, improving public transport infrastructure and promoting innovation in Australia.
Liu’s campaign has proposed tax relief for workers and to encourage small business in order to create more jobs. The Liberal Party also plans to help families through further funding for schools and healthcare, deliver more affordable energy and protect Australian borders.
The complete list of 2019 candidates vying for the seat of Chisholm are:
Monash City Council Mayor Shane McCluskey believes social services and infrastructure upgrades are important in this year’s election to the Monash community that is within the electorate in Chisholm.
“A couple of things that on the radar of Monash are the headspace program. It’s pivotal now that both parties, whoever is successful, follows through on that commitment. That’s really important for our youth, up to the age of 25,” he said.
“Housing affordably is something that our community (is) in need of a national-scale discussion. There’s difficulty around people in the community just finding housing generally.
“Transport is a massive issue in this area. The extension of joining Westall Rd up to the Monash Freeway, will elevate congestion.
“Bus services aren’t what they should be in this modern age. A combination on funding federally to ensure these roads routes and bus routes get funding and get completed (is needed).
“I think what people in the community are generally looking at is that they want to see some coordinated approach and something more than just talk.”
The community is interested in further grants towards education and healthcare as the electorate is home to the Box Hill Institute of TAFE and Deakin University’s Burwood campus, as well as major public hospital Box Hill Hospital.
We asked a few residents and Deakin University students within the electorate of Chisholm, what is important to them in the 2019 federal election?
The population of the electorate of Chisholm is 164,443, according to the 2016 census.