‘My loyalties have only ever been to Australia’: Labor Party candidate slams racist messages

Australian Labor Party's Sally Sitou

Sally Sitou, the Australian Labor Party’s candidate for the seat of Reid, has spoken out about racist messages telling her not to run in the federal election due to her heritage.

She is Australian: In a tweet posted on Wednesday, Sitou addressed the racist messages that accused her of having “divided loyalties” between Australia and China.

  • In her post, Sitou slammed the assumption, saying, “It’s the equivalent of assuming all Australians do the bidding of the Morrison [government].” She also proclaimed that she is an Australian citizen who was born and raised in the country.
  • I’m also incredibly proud of my Chinese heritage. I am standing for Federal Parliament because I love this country. I want it to be the best it can be,” Sitou wrote. “My loyalties have only ever been to Australia. That they are being questioned now speaks to the undertones of racism I fear are spreading.”
  • She then praised Australia for being a “compassionate, diverse and inclusive” country, one that “welcomed generations of migrants.”
  • However, she also mentioned the country’s dark past, notably the White Australia policy and the Stolen Generations. Sitou declared that  everyone “must all play our part to guard against racism and intolerance.”
  • I welcome the opportunity to speak to those who question my candidacy, so that I may let them know what ambitions I have for Australia,” she wrote. “I have big dreams for Australia. I want a country that is more successful, sustainable and just. A country where people from all backgrounds can see themselves reflected in our political representatives.”
  • Speaking to SBS, Sitou said there is an automatic suspicion against anyone with a Chinese background, and this “makes people feel like they have always got to be justifying themselves – they have got to be justifying how loyal they are to this country.”
  • We can’t just be assuming that because of someone’s heritage that they’ve automatically got divided loyalties,” she added.

The reaction: Several politicians have applauded Sitou for her stance against racism and intolerance on social media, including Labor Party leader Anthony Albanese.

About the candidate: Sitou, who lives in Homebush in the Inner West of Sydney, was born to Chinese parents who migrated to Australia from Laos due to the Vietnam War, according to a profile written by Sitou in The Sydney Post.

  • She is currently a University of Sydney Business School doctoral researcher focusing on the finance industry. She is also researching ways to “strengthen leadership in this sector by empowering more women and people from culturally diverse backgrounds.”
  • Sitou worked in different sectors and organizations — including the Australian Aid in Samoa and a nonprofit that advocates the elderly in China —  before she began her Ph.D.
  • The Labor Party named Sitou as its candidate to reclaim the seat of Reid in October, according to The Queanbeyan Age Chronicles. Reid, one of Australia’s most culturally diverse electorates with the second-largest Chinese population in the country, was historically held by the Labor Party for more than 50 years until the Liberal Party of Australia won the seat in 2013.

Featured Image via @SallySitou (left), Anthony Albanese MP (right)

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