Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
Disclaimer: The Parliamentary Library does not warrant or accept liability for the accuracy or usefulness of the transcripts. These are copied directly from the broadcaster's website.
First Muslim MP -

View in ParlViewView other Segments

Former union boss Ed Husic is set to head to parliament as Australia's first Muslim Federal MP.
He's the new Labor member for the Western Sydney seat of Chifley.


KERRY O'BRIEN, PRESENTER: Cliff hanger election it may be, but one man sure of the result in his
seat is former union boss Ed Husic, who goes to Parliament whenever it does open its doors again as
Australia's first Muslim federal mp.

He's the new Labor member for the western Sydney seat of Chifley, named in honour of Labor's iconic
war time Prime Minister Ben Chifley, but not before suffering a seven percent swing away from

It's still a safe seat but the road to Parliament has not been easy.

Ed Husic has accused elements within the Liberal party in Western Sydney of repeatedly seeking to
use his Muslim background as a divisive political issue.

Thea Dikeos reports.

THEA DIKEOS, REPORTER: On an election night full of uncertainties there was one result that wasn't
in doubt.

At the Mt Druitt Workers Club ALP candidate Ed Husic celebrated victory among friends in Labor
heartland in the Sydney seat of Chifley.

ED HUSIC, LABOR MP FOR CHIFLEY: This is an area I've grown up in. Getting an opportunity to
represent the area - it means a lot to me to be in a position to do that.



THEA DIKEOS: The former secretary of the Communications Electrical and Plumbing Union is the first
Muslim to enter Federal Parliament.

ED HUSIC: If someone asks me are you Muslim I say yes. And then if someone says 'Well do you pray
and go to a mosque and do all the other things that are associated with the faith?' I say no.

And people have- I often get told that I describe myself as non-practicing when in actual fact I
don't go round saying that. Like I just say 'I'm Muslim'.

THEA DIKEOS: Ed Husic's parents migrated from the former Yugoslavia in the 60s with no English, few
possessions and dreams of a better life for their children.

On election night his mother Hasiba, overcome by emotion, embraced her son's achievement

HASIBA HUSIC: That's the day I live for.

ED HUSIC: Thank you. Thank you for everything.

THEA DIKEOS: One of his political mentors is former New South Wales Premier Bob Carr.

BOB CARR, FORMER NSW PREMIER: I know Ed doesn't want to make a feature of his religion but it will
be a nice moment when he can go to a school that's got 70 per cent kids from Islamic background and
I think it will say to them 'In this Australia you are not excluded'.

THEA DIKEOS: Ed Husic's campaign in Chifley hit national headlines temporarily when the Liberal
candidate, invalid pensioner and conservative Christian David Barker, was disendorsed after his
Facebook page was revealed in a Sydney newspaper.

In it he wrote God was on the side of the Liberal Right and accused opponents of bringing the
nation closer to the hands of a Muslim country.

TONY ABBOTT, OPPOSITION LEADER: He is unendorsed he is disendorsed he is gone, he's finished.

THEA DIKEOS: David Barker had also written to the local churches seeking their support, describing
Ed Husic as a 'strong Muslim'.

DAVID BARKER, FORMER LIBERAL CANDIDATE: I honestly believe it was very important that Christians in
this area know that he is a Muslim.

THEA DIKEOS: Why did you feel that that was important?

DAVID BARKER: Because we don't need Muslims in Parliament in Australia.

ED HUSIC: It's just wrong. People shouldn't have to feel that level of guilt and hide themselves
because they feel they can't engage in day-to-day society. And that - to be honest, that's the
thing that gets me the most.

THEA DIKEOS: Ed Husic says David Barker's pre-selection is evidence that elements of the Liberal
party in Western Sydney are cynically using religion as a divisive political tactic during

ED HUSIC: When you look at the selection of like my former opponent that there is a very strong
element within the Liberal Party that doesn't represent the mainstream of the Liberal Party, that
has control of a number of branches out in Western Sydney and they are influencing the selection of
candidates and they're influencing the control of campaigns.

THEA DIKEOS: In the 2007 election in the seat of Lindsay, which is next door to Chifley, senior
Liberal members were charged with distributing fake flyers linking support for the Labor Party to a
fictitious Islamic organisation.

In the 2004 election campaign in Chifley's other neighbouring seat of Greenway, Ed Husic stood as a
Labor candidate for the first time.

Again, Ed Husic and his religion were targeted directly. Fake flyers described him as a devout
Muslim working hard to get a better deal for Islam in Greenway.

ED HUSIC: It almost felt like I'd been branded you know? And for anyone who's had that publicly,
it's not a good feeling.

THEA DIKEOS: Ed Husic was beaten by just 883 votes.

No one was prosecuted for the flyers and there was no evidence they came from the Liberal Party.

Bob Carr says a whispering campaign raising his Muslim background cost Ed Husic the seat.

BOB CARR: It was pervasive. It was everywhere. It came up in telephone polling, it came up in a
dummied up flyer which made it look like he was running for Parliament to campaign for Islamic
rights. It came up in the subtle reiteration that his opponent was a Christian churchgoer.

THEA DIKEOS: Ed Husic's most recent opponent, David Barker, has had a long association with the
Liberal Party. He's been president of the Mount Druitt branch for the last two years. In 1999 he
also ran as a Liberal candidate for Liverpool in State parliament.

According to the Liberal Party, David Barker underwent the normal candidate review process,
including being interviewed by at least four senior New South Wales Liberal Party officials.

DAVID BARKER: I'll be very surprised if they didn't know my views on these issues and I'd be quite
surprised if they didn't know who I was when they made the decision to endorse me.

THEA DIKEOS: David Barker says he was specifically told at that meeting to steer clear from
referring to Ed Husic's Muslim background during the campaign.

DAVID BARKER: They said I wasn't to talk about Ed Husic's background.

THEA DIKEOS: They obviously felt that you might do that?

DAVID BARKER: That's correct, they probably knew I would.

ED HUSIC: I find it hard to believe that someone who to this day right now holds those views so
strongly, did not get caught up in their own candidate filter as to whether or not this was a
person that should stand. And so the question I'd have is if they knew that, they knew it was an
issue, why did they select him?

THEA DIKEOS: Ed Husic welcomed the Liberal Party's decision to disendorse David Barker, but he says
it needs to go further.

ED HUSIC: They do have to reform the branches out here and to demonstrate that the heavy hitters of
the Liberal Party in Western Sydney don't influence and are not responsible for the establishment
of extreme policy or extreme views, or campaigning that falls foul of what many people believe is a
fair go.

THEA DIKEOS: The Liberal Party declined requests for an interview. It provided the following

"The Liberal Party disapproves of religion being used as a political tactic. For this reason,
candidates are advised that such behaviour will not be tolerated and this is evidenced by the quick
disendorsement of Mr Barker."

In the meantime Ed Husic says the people of Chifley will ultimately judge him on what he will be
able to deliver.

ED HUSIC: In this electorate, as diverse as it is, you have to do your job to the best of your
ability to represent all that diversity.

KERRY O'BRIEN: That report from Thea Dikeos.