Cultural diversity in the 47th Parliament: a quick guide

4 September 2023

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Lisa Richards
Politics and Public Administration

This Quick Guide provides information about parliamentarians who identify as having non-English speaking ancestry and who have served in the current, 47th, Parliament (26 July 2022–). This paper aims to provide only an approximation of the cultural diversity of the Australian Parliament, as ancestry does not necessarily equate to cultural or ethnic identity.

For the purposes of this paper, ‘non-English speaking’ ancestry excludes parliamentarians with only Australian (except Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander parliamentarians are included), English, Irish, Scottish, Welsh, Canadian, American, or New Zealander ancestry. Parliamentarians with ancestral ties to any indigenous peoples are included.

The information in this Quick Guide is compiled from a range of sources including the Library’s Parliamentary Handbook, biographies, Senators and Members qualification registers that contain parents/grandparents country of birth information, and statements by parliamentarians.

See the Library’s Parliamentary Handbook: Overseas born website for available data on federal parliamentarians’ country of birth.

While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this Quick Guide, it cannot be guaranteed to be comprehensive.

Party abbreviations

ALP              Australian Labor Party                                           IND              Independent
LIB                Liberal Party of Australia                                      KAP             Katter’s Australia Party
NATS           The Nationals                                                           JLN              Jacqui Lambie Network
CA                Centre Alliance                                                        PHON         Pauline Hanson’s One Nation
GRN             Australian Greens                                                   UAP             United Australia Party [2018]

Non-English speaking ancestry

Of the 230 parliamentarians (153 Members and 77 Senators) who have served in the 47th Parliament to date, 59 parliamentarians have identified as having at least one non-English speaking ancestry (26%).

Table 1: Number and percentage of 47th Parliament parliamentarians with non-English speaking ancestry, by party and chamber

Party Parliament House of Reps Senate
No. % No. % No. %
ALP 31 30% 24 31% 7 27%
LIB 14 20% 11 26% 3 12%
NATS 4 19% 2 13% 2 33%
GRN 2 13% 0 0% 2 18%
KAP 1 100% 1 100% - -
JLN 1 50% - - 1 50%
UAP 1 100% - - 1 100%
CA 0 0% 0 0% -  
PHON 0 0% - - 0 0%
IND 5 36% 3 27% 2 67%
Coalition total 18 20% 13 22% 5 16%
Crossbench total 10 28% 4 24% 6 32%
Total 59 26% 41 27% 18 23%

Source: Compiled by the Australian Parliamentary Library.
Note 1: Percentages are rounded and are based on the number of parliamentarians serving in that party currently or as of their last day in the 47th Parliament (i.e. current Independents who started the 47th Parliament in a party have been counted as Independents).
Note 2: Federal parliamentarians from the Liberal National Party (LNP) and Country Liberal Party (CLP) are listed under the Coalition party room they sit in (LIB or NATS).

Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander (8 Members and 3 Senators) and Italian (9 Members and 2 Senators) are the equal most common non-English speaking ancestries among 47th Parliament parliamentarians. The second most common is Greek (4 Members).

At the 2021 Census, 3.2% of the Australian population identified as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander in total (2.9% Aboriginal, 0.1% Torres Strait Islander, and 0.1% both Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander). In comparison, 4.8% of the 47th Parliament identify as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander or as having Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander ancestry.

Italian is the seventh largest ancestry in Australia. 4.4% of the Australian population identified as having Italian ancestry at the 2021 Census, compared to 4.8% of the 47th Parliament’s MPs and Senators.

1.7% of both the Australian population (ABS, 2021 Census) and 47th Parliament MPs and Senators identify as Greek or as having Greek ancestry.

Chinese is the most common non-English-speaking ancestry and the fifth most common ancestry in Australia (after English, Australian, Irish and Scottish). 5.5% of Australians identified as Chinese or as having Chinese ancestry at the 2021 Census. In comparison, only 1.3% of the 47th Parliament or 3 parliamentarians have Chinese ancestry: ALP MP for Reid NSW Sally Sitou (Chinese-Lao), ALP MP for Tangney WA Sam Lim (Chinese/Malay) and ALP Senator for SA Penny Wong (Malaysian, Malaysian-Chinese).

1.3% of the Australian population identified as having Vietnamese ancestry at the last Census. Independent MP for Fowler Dai Le is the only parliamentarian with Vietnamese ancestry (0.4% of the 47th Parliament). Of note, the most common ancestry in the Fowler electorate is Vietnamese, with 18.9% of individuals residing in Fowler (NSW) identifying as Vietnamese.

Table 2: 47th Parliament parliamentarians with non-English speaking ancestry

Name Party Electorate or State/Territory Non-English speaking ancestry
Anne Aly, MP ALP Cowan (WA) Egyptian-Arabic and born in Egypt
Peter Khalil, MP ALP Wills (Vic) Egyptian
Michael Sukkar, MP LIB Deakin (Vic) Lebanese and Norwegian
Bob Katter, MP KAP Kennedy (Qld) Lebanese
Senator Fatima Payman ALP WA Afghan and born in Afghanistan
Zaneta Mascarenhas, MP ALP Swan (WA) Goan Indian
Cassandra Fernando, MP ALP Holt (Vic) Sri Lankan and born in Sri Lanka
Michelle Ananda-Rajah, MP ALP Higgins (Vic) Tamil
Senator Mehreen Faruqi GRN NSW Pakistani and born in Pakistan
Ian Goodenough, MP LIB Moore (WA) Singaporean and born in Singapore
Dai Le, MP IND Fowler (NSW) Vietnamese and born in Vietnam
Sally Sitou, MP ALP Reid (NSW) Chinese-Lao
Sam Lim, MP ALP Tangney (WA) Chinese/Malay and born in Malaysia
Senator Penny Wong ALP SA Malaysian, Malaysian-Chinese and born in Malaysia
Ed Husic, MP ALP Chifley (NSW) Bosniak
Tanya Plibersek, MP ALP Sydney (NSW) Slovenian
Senator Glenn Sterle ALP WA Yugoslavian
Senator Alex Antic LIB SA Serbian
Senator Maria Kovacic LIB NSW Croatian
Josh Burns, MP ALP Macnamara (Vic) Jewish
Mark Dreyfus, MP ALP Isaacs (Vic) Jewish
Julian Leeser, MP LIB Berowra (NSW) Jewish
Melissa McIntosh, MP LIB Lindsay (NSW) Austrian
Colin Boyce, MP NATS Flynn (Qld) Danish
Alison Byrnes, MP ALP Cunningham (NSW) Dutch
Bert Van Manen, MP LIB Forde (Qld) Dutch
Sophie Scamps, MP IND Mackellar (NSW) French
Anthony Albanese, MP ALP Grayndler (NSW) Italian
Carina Garland, MP ALP Chisholm (Vic) Italian
Daniel Mulino, MP ALP Fraser (Vic) Italian and born in Italy
Tony Zappia, MP ALP Makin (SA) Italian and born in Italy
Senator Raff Ciccone ALP Vic Italian
Tony Pasin, MP LIB Barker (SA) Italian
Ross Vasta, MP LIB Bonner (Qld) Italian
Aaron Violi, MP LIB Casey (Vic) Italian
Nola Marino, MP LIB Forrest (WA) Italian and Swedish
Senator Matt Canavan NATS Qld Italian
Allegra Spender, MP IND Wentworth (NSW) Italian
Steve Georganas, MP ALP Adelaide (SA) Greek
Maria Vamvakinou, MP ALP Calwell (Vic) Greek and born in Greece
Alex Hawke, MP LIB Mitchell (NSW) Greek
Michael McCormack, MP NATS Riverina (NSW) Greek
Mike Freelander, MP ALP Macarthur (NSW) Fijian
Michelle Rowland, MP ALP Greenway (NSW) Fijian
Terry Young, MP LIB Longman (Qld) South Sea Islander
Jerome Laxale, MP ALP Bennelong (NSW) Mauritian
Senator Ralph Babet UAP Vic Mauritian and born in Mauritius
Senator David Pocock IND ACT Zimbabwean and born in South Africa
Linda Burney, MP ALP Barton (NSW) Wiradjuri
Gordon Reid, MP ALP Robertson (NSW) Wiradjuri
Marion Scrymgour, MP ALP Lingiari (NT) Tiwi Islander, Miyartuwi (pandanus) yiminga (skin group), and links to Central Australia
Senator Pat Dodson ALP WA Yawuru
Senator Malarndirri McCarthy ALP NT Yanyuwa and Garrawa
Senator Jana Stewart ALP Vic Mutthi Mutthi and Wamba Wamba
Senator Kerrynne Liddle LIB SA Arrente
Senator Jacinta Nampijinpa Price NATS NT Warlpiri
Senator Dorinda Cox GRN WA Noongar, Bibbulmen, and Yamatji (clans of the Kaneyang, Yued, Amangu and Wajarri peoples)
Senator Jacqui Lambie JLN Tas Palawa
Senator Lidia Thorpe IND Vic Djab Wurrung, Gunnai, and Gunditjmara


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