By Nonoy Perdon – PHOTO L-R: Councillors Jess Diaz, Jaymes Diaz, Linda Santos, Frederick Brillo. Not in photo are Carol Israel and Rey Manoto, – Five Filipino-born Australians, four Liberals and one Labor, were proclaimed by the NSW Electoral Commission as elected councillors of Blacktown City last 19 September as the council’s majority itself was returned to a solid Labor majority..
No independent candidate made it to the 15-member council.
Ten Labor and five Liberal were elected for the required 15 members of the council as against the perennially “hung” council during the previous term, comprising of seven Liberals , seven Labor and one Independent in 2014-2016.
Every year the 15 councillors choose among them who would serve as city mayor.
During its first year in the 2014-2016 term, Blacktown City councillors elected Cr Len Robinson (Liberal) as mayor with one Independent siding with the Liberals. During the two following years, the council voted Cr. Stephen Bali as mayor, on both times with a majority of one vote, capped last year by the resignation of one councillor from the Liberal Party to vote for Labor.
Blacktown is the residence of NSW’s and even Australia’s majority of Filipino population. It has been also a traditional Labor bailiwick.
Meanwhile in Campbelltown, twice Labor candidate and IT professional Mr. Rey Manoto was finally safely elected among the eight winning Labor candidates pitted for 15 city councillor spots.
The new Blacktown City Council members were expected to meet on Wednesday 28 September on its first council meeting.
The only Filipino-born Australian elected official in Australia in 2014-2016, Mr Jess Diaz has been joined in Blacktown council by his son and solicitor Jayme Diaz, another solicitor Linda Geronimo Santos and businessman-engineer Frederick Brillo, all Liberals. The fifth Filipino-born Blacktown councillor and SDA union organiser Ms Carol Israel, Labor, won in the Ward 3 ticket of Mayor Stephen Bali, Labor.
The younger Mr Jayme Diaz was Liberal candidate for the Federal seat of Greenway in two previous Federal elections, each time losing by slim margin.
Those elected were in Ward 1::Chris QUILKEY (LAB), Jess DIAZ (Liberal), and Monider SINGH (Labor);in Ward 2: in Ward 2: Leo KELLEY (Labor), Jaymes DIAZ (Liberal), and Julie GRIFFITHS (Labor); in Ward 3:Susai BENJAMIN (Labor), Kathie COLLINS (Labor), Frederick BRILLO (Liberal).
In Ward 4 : Stephen BALI (Labor), Carol ISRAEL(Labor), Linda SANTOS (Liberal); and in Ward 5: Tony BEASDALE (Labor), Brad BUNTING (Labor), Peter CANILLERI(Liberal).
It has been the dream of many politically conscious Filipino-born migrants in Western Sydney to see Filipino migrants elected in elective posts, let alone in local government.
Many feel the number of community organisations and leaders have been pivotal in gathering voting support for elective officials in Western Sydney, but few personalities until only recently made it to elective posts, even at lower rung of the political hierarchy such as local councillors.
An association called Filipino Australian Movement for Empowerment or FAME had been promoting for over a decade support to aspiring Filipino-born candidates including holding a number seminars and electoral awareness program.
Compared with the Philippines, Australia has a entirely different electoral system which give importance to system of electoral preference, most of the times giving advantage to candidates preselected by political parties. American pattern Philippine elections are more personality driven and give importance to individual candidates and their capabilities to draw votes.