Get on any bus speeding down Victoria Road and (on the right one), you land in Parramatta.
It used to be a bit daggy, dreary, a hard-struggle place, but look at it now – or rather, look at who made it now. Why, it’s those men and women of many racial identities, many cultures, many languages, but all speaking perfectly understandable ‘strine as they serve you some of the best cooking you’ll savour in Sydney (but this is Parra, remember?) sell you anything from saris to (modest!) swimsuits and strive on, day after day, working, working, for themselves and their families, for the better life they all want – and why shouldn’t they have?
Enter the Future Prince of Parramatta, Andrew Charlton, billionaire centre-right economist from the terribly genteel Eastern Suburbs of Sydney, and the man Albo has handpicked to run in Parra, despite and against all local opposition.
Charlton, author of Ozonomics and Fair Trade for All (with Joseph Stiglitz) and two Quarterly Essays, Man-Made World (which won the 2012 John Button Prize) and Dragon’s Tail, was, from 2008-10, senior economic adviser to Kevin Rudd. Charlton is a director of the strategic advisory business AlphaBeta.
Jim Chalmers is a federal Labor MP and the ABC’s go-to man on economic matters. Director of the Chifley Research Centre, Chief of Staff to the Deputy Prime Minister and Treasurer, senior adviser to state and federal Labor leaders and Labor’s national research manager, and author of the 2013 Glory Daze.
Two good Labor mates. Pity then, no one Parra has heard of either. A picture of Mr Chalmers showed to a young Sudanese woman (she didn’t know the name, I thought the picture might help,) brought the response, ‘Is he a footballer?’
No, I said, but he juggles a lot of balls, and ordered another helping of hilib ari, Somali style spicy goat stew, perfect in Sydney’s unseasonable snap of cold, to take home (yesterday opened the fasting month of Ramadan, and it seemed unkind to eat when my friend did not).
The tectonic plates of political landscape are shifting with startling rapidity.
A young Tibetan-born woman, Kyinzom Dhongdue, for the Democratic Alliance, is running in Bennelong, heavily backed by Chinese who don’t like what China’s leaders are up to. Las Vegas-born Kristina Keneally, one of the ‘mean girls’ named by the late Senator Kimberley Kitching, was parachuted into the inner-city seat of Fowler over the much stronger, probably more authentic claims of Vietnamese-Australian candidate, the daughter of Vietnamese refugees.
Senator Keneally tactlessly announced her arrival in Cabramatta from her former domicile in Scotland Island with an exuberant ‘Greeting fellow immigrants!’
Labor’s Andrew Charlton, ‘The Future Prince of Parra’, is getting ready to enter his domain.
Hopefully, he likes goat stew.
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