Filipino-Australian politicians scored well at the last local elections winning seats in city councils. Newly elected councillors at the Blacktown City Council included four Fil-Aussies belonging to the Liberal Party and one from the Labor Party; in Campbelltown, a Fil-Aussie from the Labor Party also took a seat in their city council.
Father and Son tandem at council
Liberal Councillor Jess Diaz, a lawyer, seasoned in Blacktown city politics after two terms retains his seat in Ward 1. It’s a big year for the Diazes as son Jaymes (Liberal) joins him in the council. Jaymes is back in the political scene after a rather stormy run for a Greenway parliamentary seat in 2013.
The father and son are moving on from bitter political battles in the past and are now just raring to get to work together in the council to push their vision – for the party, for the community.
For the senior councillor, there is so much work to be done.
“I am passionate to lift not only the perception but also in reality the image of Blacktown. The City gets little attention and sits like a vacuum between Parramatta and Penrith, The Hills and Liverpool,” he told AK.
“As a Liberal, it can only come about in the changing demography in the growth areas in Blacktown, similar to what happened in the Norwest area. In the same vein, the face of the City, the CBD must be lifted.”
Councillor Jess Diaz said that in a multicultural city like Blacktown, people must accept and recognise the strong representation of different ethnic groups in the Council.
“If people feel genuine ownership of the City, natural pride ensues and respect for one another will promote peace and harmony and the common goal of “progress” can be achieved.”
For Jaymes, he is ready to work on specific advocacies addressing long-term problems hounding communities in Blacktown.
“As a second generation Filipino-Australian, I am aware of my cultural heritage and I am familiar with Filipino-Australian’s struggle for economic upliftment. The situation in many parts of Blacktown is not dissimilar with Filipinos caught in the cycle of welfare dependency in many parts of Sydney,” he said.
“In Australia welfare dependency has been perpetrated by certain political parties for political dominance. I advocate for genuine early intervention in family support, employment and education to break this vicious cycle of welfare dependency. This will allow a person to have greater self-esteem and control over their life.”
It is a remarkable year for the young Diaz who is making a comeback after a bitter election-related media-bashing experience he wenth through a few years ago. Lessons had been learned.
“I said and believe that criticisms can only energise a person especially in politics, knowing that what is in the public arena is only half truths. One is not defined by one’s error or mistake, particularly one orchestrated or set up. As I said, people only know half truths,” Councillor Jaymes Diaz said.
“It is also part of breaking the stereotype of what a representative looks like and breaking the bamboo ceiling,” he said.
“I am grateful to the people of Blacktown for giving me a chance to prove I can make a difference and that’s something I don’t take for granted and I will do my best to work hard to represent them.” – Cr Jaymes
The young Diaz is busy preparing for his new role and is drawing on both his experience as a lawyer of good standing and by being the son of a veteran Liberal councillor.
“Filipinos have always been respectful and look up to their elders for their wisdom. My father is a great inspiration and he raised me to always serve the community so it makes sense that I would also serve when given the opportunity to do so,” Jaymes said.
Local level politicians
Three newly elected councillors also come from the Filipino-Australian community.
Liberal Frederick Brillo has been elected in Ward 3; Linda Santos from the Liberal Party gets a seat in Ward 4. Carol Israel from the Labor Party will also take her seat in Ward 4.
Outside Blacktown, active Filipino community leader Rey Manoto from Labor won a seat at the Capbelltown City Council.
Councillor Jess Diaz says he sees the election of Fil-Aussies to city councils as a pathway being fashioned out for community members to have their say in politics at the local level.
“Our long-term aspiration for genuine empowerment is taking shape, albeit in the local level of politics. The pathway is being fashioned for the posterity of Filipino Australians to take part in government’s decision-making process in parliaments and the high-level echelons of power,” Cr Jess Diaz said.
“Filipinos worldwide have demonstrated their capabilities and intellectual abilities as exemplified by Dr. Jose Rizal, a Universal Genius. This can only be good for our community to raise the esteem and standing of Filipinos in Australia.”
Cr Jess Diaz noted the support of the great majority of Fil-Australians in the last elections.
“I am personally aware and thankful for the support of great majority of Filipino Australians. It is, however, sad and unfortunate that a few ferociously tried to frustrate our efforts and worked against their own posterity.
“Let’s break the culture of menial or colonial mentality so ingrained among us often sprouting its ugly head. Our common denominator is being “Filipino” so first and foremost let us always remind ourselves of what binds us together.”
Blacktown is home to a big number of citizens with Filipino descent. Campbelltown meanwhile is also home to a very active Filipino-Australian community. Campbelltown is home to a major Rizal Park that opened a few years ago.