For the first time ever, an India-born man is among those trying their luck in the elections to the Australian Senate to be held on July 2.
Karthik Arasu was born and brought up in India before he migrated to Australia. He has spent over 18 years doing social work in different parts of Australia, especially in Victoria state, he told Pradesh 18, adding that this should stand him in good stead in the elections.
The Senate is the upper house of Australian Parliament - similar to India's Rajya Sabha - but the difference is that its members are elected through direct voting. The total strength of the Senate is 76, of which 12 each are elected from the six states - New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia, Tasmania, Victoria and Western Australia.
In each state, the first 12 who get the maximum number of votes make it to the Senate. The remaining four representatives are picked from centrally-administered territories.
Born in Chennai, Arasu took his engineering degree from the SRM college in the city. He then left for Melbourne and took his masters degree from the Swinburne University there. He then opened his own service station on a contract with United Petroleum.
In 2014, Arasu changed his profession and became a business consultant. In this capacity, he started working with small self-help groups in Victoria.
The population of Victoria is about 45 lakh, of which a large section comprises migrants from other countries. There are at least 3 lakh voters of Indian origin. Karthik is expected to get their votes en bloc, besides the support of migrants from Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Nepal.
"People in Australia vote over issues though, and not on ethnic lines," Arasu said.
These are Arasu's promises to his voters
-No income tax for women for three years after child birth
-5-year visas instead of present 6-month visas for parents of immigrants
- Government holidays on Diwali and Id
- Multi-storeyed car parking at railway stations
- Tax rebates for industries in rural areas
- Total ban on plastic carry bags, keeping the environment in mind.
In the previous Senate, dissolved last month, was a person of Indian origin, Liza Singh. But her ancestors had migrated from India, first to Fiji, before reaching Australia and settling down there.