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Meet The Migrant Son Taking On The Immigration Minister This Election

If you want to get in touch with Labor candidate Chris Gambian, just call him.

His personal mobile phone number is on his website, and deliberately so.

"If you are serious about wanting to interact with people then you have to make yourself available," Gambian told 10 daily.

He said it can be tricky to juggle at times.

"It’s important if you are serious about having a relationship with the community you have to be prepared to engage with people properly and to me, that means even simple things like having my mobile number around."

Chris Gambian
Gambian campaigning against ABC privatisation in 2018. Image: Twitter/ Chris Gambian.

Getting to know people is the cornerstone of Gambian's campaign against Minister for Immigration, Citizenship and Multicultural Affairs David Coleman in the south-eastern Sydney electorate Banks.

READ MORE: Scott Morrison Set To Cut Immigration, Move Migrants To Smaller Towns Not Cities

Gambian aims to change the role of the federal MP to make policies more accessible to people who live outside of the Canberra bubble.

"A big priority for me is to reorient the way politics and government works. At the moment I think it is too inward looking at some of the chaos out of Canberra," he said.

Former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd joined Labor candidate for Banks Chris Gambian. Photo: AAP

His parents migrated from India to Banks in 1974. He was born and raised in the area and is now raising his family in Banks too.

He said his experiences as a first-generation Australian form part of his campaign approach.

"I think it has to be more focused on day-to-day lives and the stuff that people worry about when they go home at night."

Part of Gambian's plan includes diversifying parliament to reflect the views and experiences of Australians.

READ MORE: Third Election Debate Locked For Press Club Primetime Next Wednesday

Banks is one of the most diverse electorates in NSW, with large Chinese, Indian and Nepalese populations. There's also a range of socioeconomic backgrounds and a cross section of elderly people, young people, and families.

In 2016, Gambian lost the seat to Coleman by just over one percent of the vote and this contest is expected to be just as tight.

Two candidate preferred results for Banks from the 2016 Federal Election. Photo: AEC
Labor's Ethnic Diversity Push A Notable Part Of Election

This week, Senator Penny Wong said Penny Wong Australia would send a powerful and symbolic message to the Asia-Pacific if she becomes the first Asian-Australian foreign minister.

In a speech at the Lowy Institute in Sydney on Wednesday, the shadow foreign minister said she remembered when her father phoned from Malaysia during Pauline Hanson's first political chapter, asking if she needed to leave Australia.

"What is significant about that possibility is not my personal attributes — but rather what would be significant about an Asian-Australian being our foreign minister is what it says about us," she said.

Labor Senate candidate Jason Yat-sen Li and shadow Foreign Minister Penny Wong. IMAGE: supplied

She also suggested her presence on the international arena could negate  stereotypes about Australians being racist or suspicious of its neighbours.

"Narratives matter, as do perceptions," she said.

In an interview with Fairfax, Labor Senate candidate Jason Yat-sen Li called for Parliament to adopt targets for ethnic representation.

As a principle I would love to see Parliament broadly reflective of the Australian population, he said.

He said he supports targets because "you know you are working towards something" despite the fair way Canberra has to go.

"I think all institutions of power, whether that be the media or company boards, should be broadly reflective of the Australian community."

The Issues That Keeps Gambian's Phone Ringing

For Gambian, he says what he represents symbolically coming from a migrant family is just as important as taking on board the concerns of the constituents he represents.

“The thing that so many people come back to is climate change," Gambian said.

"The number one economic issue in Australia is how we tackle climate change. The number one social issue facing Australia is how we tackle climate change."

Gambian's other focus areas are almost identical to Coleman's. These include the cost of living, lower taxes and investments in schools, hospitals and jobs.

In the two weeks before Australia decides on who will be the next prime minister, Gambian said he'll continue to foster a relationship with the people he hopes to represent.

"I want them to feel like they can come and just talk."

Contact Siobhan at skenna@networkten.com.au