facebook twitter links
June 18 2018 | 1:30pm AET

THE ANC-AU GUIDE TO THE 2017 BENNELONG BY-ELECTION [includes ScoreCard]

Source: ANC Australia | Thursday, 14 December 2017
Email  |  Print 


BENNELONG: As part of our commitment to advance the concerns of Armenian-Australians, the Armenian National Committee of Australia (ANC-AU) met with key candidates ahead of this Saturday's (16/12/2017) by-election for the Federal seat of Bennelong, which is the largest Armenian-populated electorate in Australia.

THE ANC-AU GUIDE TO THE 2017 BENNELONG BY-ELECTION serves to communicate the commitments that candidates have conveyed to us regarding issues that specifically concern, and are fundamentally important to our community. The matters discussed during our meetings relate to both Australian-domestic and Armenian-specific issues.

Bennelong, which covers heavily-Armenian populated suburbs including Ryde and its surrounding areas, was suddenly drawn to a by-election due to the incumbent MP John Alexander being caught up in the dual citizenship crisis engulfing Australia's Federal Parliament.

Alexander was pre-selected to re-contest for this seat by his Liberal Party. He is being challenged by the Australian Labor Party's star recruit, former New South Wales Premier, Kristina Keneally. The Australian Greens are represented by Justin Alick, who achieved over 9% in Bennelong in the previous Federal Election. The Australian Conservatives, a party formed by maverick Senator Cory Bernardi, is also expected to poll well with young candidate, Joram Richa.

ANC-AU met with all four candidates. A wide range of issues were discussed, including but not limited to Federal Parliamentary recognition of the Armenian Genocide, the rights to self-determination of the Armenians of the Republic of Artsakh and Armenian-Australian community resources.

The following details commitments made by all four candidates.

JOHN ALEXANDER (LIB)



John Alexander has been a good friend, long-term supporter of the Armenian-Australian community and the 2016 recipient of ANC-AU's "Armenian-Australian Community Friend of the Year" Award. Working with ANC-AU, Alexander has been outspoken in Federal Parliament, speaking for Commonwealth recognition of the Armenian Genocide and standing up for the rights to self-determination for the Armenians of the Republic of Artsakh on several occasions.
  • Federal Parliamentary Recognition of the Armenian Genocide

    Following our meeting in the lead-up to this by-election, Alexander moved to reiterate his position on this issue remains unwavering:

    "I strongly believe the Armenian Genocide should be recognised by theParliament of Australia. I have spoken in support of this many times and helped inform my parliamentary colleagues about this issue. Many have joined me as members of the recently-formed Australia-Armenia Inter-Parliamentary Union."

  • Advocacy in Support of self-determination for the Armenians of the Republic of Artsakh (Nagorno Karabakh)

    Alexander also confirmed his continued commitment to seeing the right to self-determination for the Armenians of the Republic of Artsakh recognised:

    "I have condemned Azerbaijani aggression against Armenia and the Republic of Artsakh in Parliament and in public. I also questioned a visiting Azerbaijani Member of Parliament on his country’s activities in the region, putting forward my strong view that peace can be achieved in the Republic of b Artsakh, under the guidance of the OSCE Minsk Group, which I hope will lead to the right to self-determination of the Armenians of the Republic of Artsakh."

    "I will continue to advocate on behalf of the Armenians of the Republic of Artsakh for the right to self-determination and I hope to join your delegation to Armenia in 2018."

  • Support for Bennelong Armenians

    During our meeting, we alerted candidates to the growing needs of the burgeoning Homenetmen Ararat & Hamazkaine Nairi chapters, jointly operating out of Ararat Scout Hall in Santa Rosa Park, Ryde. Alexander confirmed he would advocate for resources required by these organisations:

    "Thank you for raising the needs of the Homenetmen Scouting and Sporting Association's Ararat Chapter and the Hamazkaine Armenian Cultural and Educational Society's Nairi Chapter, who operate from Ryde’s Santa Rosa Park Scout Hall. I pledge to help advocating your case in trying to secure resources for the planned expansion of facilities."


KRISTINA KENEALLY (ALP)



Kristina Keneally is a star candidate for the Australian Labor Party to contest what will undoubtedly be a tight by-election in Bennelong. She met ANC-AU, along with the NSW Labor General Secretary and long-time friend of the Armenian-Australian community, Walt Secord MLC, who used to be Keneally's Chief of Staff.

Her record on Armenian issues while a member of the NSW State Parliament was solid, and she pledged to take that further to more vocal advocacy if elected in Bennelong.

  • Federal Parliamentary Recognition of the Armenian Genocide

    Keneally stated her position on this important issue:

    "I am proud to have been a member of the New South Wales Parliament, a chamber that passed a motion in 1997 acknowledging and honouring the victims of the Armenian genocide. While this motion was passed prior to my election, I nonetheless appreciate its significance to the Armenian community in our state. I give tribute to the bi-partisan support the motion received, especially from my friend The Hon John Watkins, the former Labor Deputy Premier, Labor Premier Bob Carr and from then Liberal leader Peter Collins. The passing of the motion, of course, is commemorated with a memorial on the ninth floor of the Parliament."

    "If elected, I will advocate for the Australian Parliament to follow the lead of the NSW Parliament and formally recognise the Armenian Genocide."

    "As a Catholic, I am also stirred by Pope Francis' words in 2015, when he called on the entire human family to heed "the warnings of this tragedy to protect us from falling into a similar horror."

  • Advocacy in Support of self-determination for the Armenians of the Republic of Artsakh (Nagorno Karabakh)

    After informing Keneally on the importance of the protection of the human rights to self-determination for the Armenians of the Republic of Artsakh, in the face of the oil-rich dictatorship's constant war-mongering, she stated her position as follows:

    "You asked if I would be a voice in the Australian Parliament to promote peace, conflict resolution and the stable political and security environments of Nagorno-Karabakh. I will, and I note the progress of social and economic development in Nagorno-Karabakh, and the work of the OSCE Minsk Group."

    "You asked me if I will advocate for the right to self-determination of the Armenians in the Republic of Artsakh (Nagorno Karabakh). I will."

    "I also advised you that, should I be elected as the Member for Bennelong, my good friend The Hon Walter Secord MLC will be taking me to visit Armenia. As you know, Mr Secord has already been to Armenia, and I would like very much to see the country first-hand. I would be delighted if you could, should the opportunity arise, assist me in making such a visit."

  • Support for Bennelong Armenians

    The facility expansion requirements of Homenetmen Ararat & Hamazkaine Nairi chapters, jointly operating out of Ararat Scout Hall in Santa Rosa Park, Ryde was also discussed with Keneally. She responded as follows:

    "As a local resident and as an Adjunct Professor at Macquarie University, I am aware of the strong Armenian community in Bennelong. I note that the Homenetmen Scouting and Sporting Association's Ararat Chapter and the Hamazkaine Armenian Cultural and Educational Society's Nairi Chapter contribute greatly to the social, culture and sporting life of our community in Ryde.

    "I appreciate that the by-election in Bennelong is of great interest to the Australians of Armenian origin who live in the electorate. I acknowledge that the previous Member for Bennelong, Mr John Alexander, has been a friend to the Armenian community and I respect him for that."

    "Should I be given the trust and honour by the people of Bennelong to represent them in the federal parliament I will be a strong and unrelenting advocate for our local community."


JUSTIN ALICK (GRN)



Justin Alick is no stranger to the Bennelong electorate. He contested the Federal Election in 2016, where he polled an impressive 9.1%. Alick was very familiar with the history of the Armenian Genocide and also knowledgable on the situation in the Republic of Artsakh (Nagorno Karabakh), aided by his several years working in the overseas aid and development sector, including with the United Nations.

  • Federal Parliamentary Recognition of the Armenian Genocide

    The Australian Greens have a party policy position on this issue, which Alick confirmed with his commitment ahead of this by-election, stating that the following is "both positions of myself as well as the Party I am representing":

    "The Australian Greens recognise the Armenian genocide, including the systematic massacres and forced deportation of 1.5 million Armenians in the final days of the Ottoman Empire. This represents one of the gravest crimes against humanity in modern times and we pay tribute to the memory of the victims."

  • Advocacy in Support of self-determination for the Armenians of the Republic of Artsakh (Nagorno Karabakh)

    Alick definitely stood tall on this issue, delivering a party-wide policy position on the Republic of Artsakh (Nagorno Karabakh). Working in coordination with ANC-AU and his Party's leadership, including the Offices of Dr Richard Di Natale (leader of the Australian Greens), Senator Lee Rhiannon, and David Shoebridge MLC, Alick and The Australian Greens recognised the Republic of Artsakh and the rights to self-determination of the region's Armenian population:

    "In line with the 25 October 2012 motion by the NSW Legislative Council, the Australian Greens:

    a. acknowledges and upholds the importance of the human right to self-determination and a free and a democratic society,

    b. recognises the right to self-determination of all peoples including those of the Republic of Nagorno-Karabakh,

    c. notes Nagorno-Karabakh's sustained efforts towards creating a free and democratic society through the use of legitimate parliamentary elections and its continued efforts to develop a responsible government,

    d. supports and encourages Nagorno-Karabakh's involvement within the international community and further encourages its engagement with the international community to reach a solution to the existing regional problems to establish peace and stability,

    e. encourages peaceful relations and the continued promotion of humanitarian and economic support for the people of Nargona-Karabakh, and

    f. calls on the Commonwealth Government to officially recognise the independence of the Republic of Nagorno-Karabakh and strengthen Australia's relationship with Nagorno-Karabakh and its citizens."

  • Support for Bennelong Armenians

    Regarding the needs of the Homenetmen Ararat & Hamazkaine Nairi chapters, Alick stated:

    "In the case that I am elected, I will advocate for Federal Government assistance in improving the facilities at the Ararat Scout Hall at 255 Quarry Road, for the benefit of the Bennelong community, including the Australian-Armenian community, in partnership with Ryde Council."

JORAM RICHA (ACP)



Joram Richa is the Bennelong by-election candidate for the Australian Conservatives Party, which was recently formed by former Liberal Party Senator, Cory Bernardi. Richa is of Maronite-Lebanese origin and showed a keen interest for Armenian-Australian issues during his meeting with ANC-AU.

Unlike the other candidates, Richa was unable to confirm his positions with his party leadership, however expressed his general sentiments as follows:

  • "I'm so glad that the Bennelong by-election gave rise to our meeting and that you brought these pressing matters to my attention. Of all the candidates be assured I would have to be the most outraged by the historical plight and on-going concerns of your people."

    "The Armenian community can be assured of my support and I look forward to digesting your briefing regarding Nagorno Karabakh in detail. I promise to bring these matters and the matter of the Armenian Genocide to the attention of the party leadership, both here in NSW and Federally."

    "Once again, we have not had time to discuss policy. Final decision on policy matters rest with AC's parliamentary members, so if I am elected, I will be more than keen to address all these matters fully and consistently."

ANC-AU thanks you, the Armenian-Australian community, for reading our THE ANC-AU GUIDE TO THE 2017 BENNELONG BY-ELECTION. Our ScoreCard for the first three candidates are detailed in below graphic.

We thank all four candidates for meeting with us, and wish them luck on Saturday, 16th December. We look forward to working with them following the election, whether they are or are not elected as the Federal Member of Bennelong.