23 May 2019
Pramej Shrestha represented Liberal Party from electorate of Barton in the Federal election of Australia 2019. Shrestha is the first person of Nepali origin who was selected as a candidate in the Australian Federal election and the youngest one from Liberal Party at the age of 26.
Shrestha only had three weeks for the preparation of election campaign after his nomination. He was fighting against five opponents, among whom Linda Burney from Labor Party was the strongest opponent for him. Burney is the current Federal member for Barton and has many years of experience in Australian politics. Shrestha, a second generation migrant was up against the aboriginal candidate. “It was an honour to be against Linda Burney who has years of experience”, says Shrestha.
Even though Burney was re-elected as the Federal member for Barton, the voting result is not disappointing, as Shrestha has received 32,069 votes which is 41.09 % of total votes while Burney has received 58. 09 % votes. Shrestha stands in the second place by surpassing The Greens, Pauline Hanson’s One Nation, United Australia Party and Christian Democratic Party.
“We were outstanding, there were volunteers working every day since the beginning and on the Election Day we had more than 200 volunteers on the ground supporting my candidacy”, Shrestha said. “The best part was I received great appreciation and support from Nepalese community, also from Australian community including Lebanese community, Greek, Chinese community. It was a challenge to mobilise volunteers and work for the campaign but the community members made it possible as a team. Even my school mates were helping me in the campaign”, Shrestha continued.
Shrestha says, “The election provided me with a huge opportunity to represent the community that I grew up in and cared for. It gave me a bigger platform to reach to community members, to hear their stories and issues.”
When asked about his future plan, he said, “It is just the beginning, my work for community will continue. Federal election helped me connect with broader group and people of all ages. I want to work for wider community, we need to bridge Nepali and other migrant communities to wider Australian community which is very important. I want to make sure people’s voices are heard.”
He added that he wants to work for youth issues in the society. Prior to his nomination he was involved in different organisations working for youth and local communities.