Palani Thevar, Labor Party’s candidate for Maiwar, Queensland

Palani Thevar and Pinky Singh have the right credentials to represent their community in the October 31 elections

By Rabindra Mukherji

As Queensland gears up for this year’s state elections scheduled to be held on October 31, the candidates representing various districts are campaigning to garner maximum support from their respective electorates. Among those contesting for the upcoming elections are two renowned candidates of Indian descent who have both made their mark in the Australian society by their dedicated and selfless work. Palani Thevar and Pinky Singh have emerged as prominent faces for Queensland’s upcoming state elections. Though Palani and Pinki’s rise to fame are distinct stories, the inner urge in both of them to contribute to the welfare of the people in the community is the common thread that makes them comparable.

A crusader for education, health and community development

Born in Madurai, Tamil Nadu, Palani Thevar has catapulting himself to a leadership position in social work and community service in Australia. As the former president of The Federation of Indian Communities of Queensland (FICQ) and the founding president of Brisbane Tamil Association, Palani has devoted his life to social work and has served the disadvantaged and vulnerable sections of the society. The father of three children, Palani and his wife Devi Palani share a common mission of fostering education and community development. They have played a pivotal role in bringing communities together and in working towards their wellbeing.

By dint of his hard work and devotion to community development, Palani ascended the leadership ladder and was in 2019 chosen the Labor Party’s candidate for the Maiwar district in Queensland. Besides assuming a lead role in social service, he is also a media and communication professional and has a Bachelor’s degree in social work from the University of Queensland.

As for his motto behind running for the district elections, he wants to “fight for crucial education, health and community services that the community members deserve.” He emphasizes that his personal experiences as a social worker and being a witness to the cuts to health and community services on Queenslanders elicited his decision to take up the candidacy. Palani, who has mainly worked in mental health care support sector, disability care sector and as child safety support officer, feels that the Queensland community is in earnest need of a member of Parliament who can work for its betterment.

Displaying her complete confidence and faith in Palani, Premier of Queensland Annastasia Palaszczuk remarked that the erstwhile FICQ president reflected her government in lending his ear to the voice of Queenslanders and that he would be out there every day earning the trust of the local communities.

A recent example of public faith in Palani’s commitment to redress grievances was seen when many locals contacted him regarding their concerns over access of local community to the green space at Queensland Academy of Science, Mathematics and Technology. As he has been in touch with the local government on behalf of the community, Palani posted the reply on his social media accounts reassuring the locals that the recent restrictions had been imposed only due to the Covid-19 crisis and that in the future there would be no problems of accessibility.

Palani also endorses the importance of building resilience through multiculturalism and on May 21 (UN World Day) he attended a virtual meeting on this agenda with MPs Graham Perrett and Mark Dreyfus, among others. He has also been at the forefront promoting the efforts of the volunteers who have worked for the community development of Maiwar. On May 23 as part of the National Volunteer Week, Palani felicitated two volunteers Mariya Coblenz and Laraine Hinds acknowledging their dedicated work for the Benarrawa Community Development Association.

Palani will be running against Lauren Day of the Liberal National Party of Queensland.

Pinky Singh

Serving through entrepreneurial leadership

The other Indian achiever in the Queensland’s election battleground is Pinky Singh aka Gurpreet Singh, who is a Newstead-based businesswoman. She has been chosen by the Liberal National Party of Queensland as their candidate for McConnel in the October state government elections. Pinky’s story is quite interesting and may well inspire many aspirants.

She had migrated to Australia 20 years ago at the age of 18. Back then she did not speak much English. Initially when she came to this country she got the job of a waitress. But this did not deter her. Since then she has come a long way as now she is a successful entrepreneur and is married and has three children. Post her marriage she and her husband Ben have worked diligently to build a successful small businesses. In their pursuit for personal success they have also contributed to realize the aspirations of the members of their community by helping in the creation of many job opportunities for them. By spearheading many activities across numerous community and multicultural circles, Pinky has endeared herself among the community groups in Brisbane.

In one of her memorable acts of generosity she had given unconditional support to the family of the Brisbane bus driver Manmeet Alisher who was murdered in 2016. She had also played a crucial role for them by acting as their representative in communicating with the government and the media.

Founder of the Punjabi Welfare Association of Australia, an organization committed to supporting Punjabi migrants and families in Australia, Pinky believes that McConnel being one of the most culturally diverse electorates and home to tens of thousands of small businesses, her own experiences as a woman entrepreneur coupled with her migrant background make her the best candidate to represent McConnel. She also accepts that despite its uniqueness, this district is plagued with several problems which are similar to those of the rest of Queensland and therefore McConnel needs an MP who is acquainted with small business and perceives the necessity of creating a strong, local economy. Her main motive is to ensure Queensland’s optimum development, and backed by Deb Frecklington’s party, she hopes to fulfil her dream.

Recently she met owners of various local cafes and restaurants such as New Farm Markets, Wickham Hotel, and Taj Mahal Cuisine in a bid to urge everyone to support these local businesses.