Daughter With Kenyan Roots Breaks 101-Year Record in Australia

  • Newly elected Australian lawmaker Zaneta Mascarenhas.
    Newly elected Australian lawmaker Zaneta Mascarenhas.
    File
    The Sunday Morning Herald
  • Zaneta Mascarenhas, whose parents emigrated from Kenya, was elected the lawmaker representing the Perth seat of Swan in Australia.

    With her election, Mascarenhas effectively shattered a 101-year record since the establishment of the Australian Parliament and made history as the first woman to represent the expansive region.

    She was also touted among the first politicians with non-European backgrounds to be sworn in to Parliament, an exercise that took place on Tuesday, August 2.

    Her rise to the top has been challenging, dating back to India where her parents, who were born in Goa, lived before moving to Kenya.

    Newly elected Australian lawmaker Zaneta Mascarenhas
    Newly elected Australian lawmaker Zaneta Mascarenhas.
    The West Australian

    The two were brought up in East Africa before emigrating to Australia in search for a better life. She narrated how her dad facing racial discrimination while seeking to move to Australia.

    "When my dad went to the Australian Embassy in Kenya, they said to him: ‘you have the right skills but the wrong colour’," she narrated.

    In an interview with SBS Hindi, Mascarenhas noted that she was born in Kalgoorlie and lived in town of Kambald. 

    “I am a mum, I live in the community, I am connected to the community and I am also a person of colour and an engineer who started her career in steel-capped boots on a mine site. So I feel like people connected with different parts of my story and thought that I would be a stronger representative for them," she added.

    Mascarenhas created a strong career as an engineer championing for climate change action for 12 years and helped ASX 200 companies in their decarbonisation efforts.

    After her election, the lawmaker noted that she will direct her efforts towards morally-driven goals such as championing for climate change as well as diversity.

    “The Australian public is voting for a Parliament that looks like them. It is important that we see that our Federal Parliament is as diverse as the people of our wonderful country. And if I can inspire others to think about politics as a career, then I am very happy to do that,” she remarked.

    She is also set to tackle rising gas prices by challenging the nation to turn towards renewable energy sources such as the sun and wind.

    “The price of gas has gone up, so it is really important that we integrate more renewables into our electricity mix. Australia becoming a renewable superpower is totally a part of that vision,” she added.

    The Australian Parliament
    The Australian Parliament,
    BBC