Asian-Australian Political Office Holders



Tsebin Tchen was the first Asian migrant elected to the Australian State Parliament in Victoria, after being pre-selected on a Liberal Senate ticket in 1993. 


He was born in present day Chongqing in Sichuan Province, came to Australia on a student visa and became a town planner.   He took up Australian citizenship in 1971 after the late Prime Minister Harold Holt ended the White Australian policy on immigration.    He works today as an Adjunct Professor at the Swinburne University of Technology and in 2015, was appointed by the Labour Government in Victoria as a Commissioner of the Victorian Multicultural Commission.



Senator Billy George O 'Chee was the first Australian born of Asian background elected as Senator - and one of the youngest , whether white or not, at the age of 24.  


William served as the Nationals Senator for Queensland from 1990 to 1999.  He attended both the Southport High School and the Brisbane State High School, before going to the UK  (Oakham School and the Brasenose College at the University of Oxford).   Before entering politics, he was an investment banker specialising in Latin American debt.  His father has Chinese heritage and his mother, Irish-Australian.


Billy fought for freehold titles to be granted to Indigenous Australian claimants over vacant Crown land, in exchange of entire extinguishment of native title.     He also alleged that News Ltd. made an attempt to bribe him in 1999 to cross over the Parliamentary floor and vote for the financial interests of the accused.   The  Court of Appeal in Queensland also upheld his stand on parliamentary privilege for communications between a Parliamentarian and his or her constituents.


Billy was involved with the sport called Skeleton,at World Cup and World Championship events.  He coaxed the lightweight rowing crew at Oxford, where he was a contemporary of former British Prime Minister David Cameron.



Penny Wong has a hattrick - first Eurasian elected as Senator, served as Finance Minister in a Labour Federal Government and also the first of Malaysian (Hakka Chinese) origin to serve such high office in Australia.   Penny moved to the Adelaide Hills from Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia with mum Jane Chapman and her younger brother Toby Wong.  


Penny graduated in law from the University of South Australia, where she was a contemporary of Liberal Minister Christopher Pyne,  South Australian State Premier Jay Wetherill and former Greens Senator Natasha Stott Despoja.    She was significantly involved with the Liquor, Hospitality and Miscellaneous Union and the Australian Industrial Relations Commission in her early career.


She was appointed the Minister for Climate Change and Water in the Labour Government at Federal level in 2007.  Three years later, she became the Minister for Finance and Deregulation until the win by the Coalition in the 2013 elections.    Penny is currently the Leader of the Opposition in the Australian Senate.




John Chun Sai So is of Hong Kong background served as the first Lord Mayor of Melbourne of Asian origin for eight years from 2001 to 2008.   He held this office during the second hosting of the Commonwealth Games by Melbourne.   He was the first Lord Mayor to be elected directly by the people, breaking the previous practice for the position to to e elected by Councillors.   He was the winner of the 2006 World Mayor Award and was in office when Melbourne was first ranked as the World's Most Liveable City.


John attended the University High School in Melbourne after migrating from Hong Kong. He is an alumni of the University of Melbourne and taught physics at Fitzroy High School before launching into business in 1973.   He strongly supports major sports events in Victoria, especially two soccer clubs - the Melbourne Victory and the Melbourne Demons.


John was honoured with being made an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) by Queen Elizabeth in 2014.  This was after he received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the World Chinese Economic Forum.   In 2007, he was criticised for not meeting up with the visiting Dalai Lama and presiding over a significant budget deficit for the Council.



Henry Tsang served as Deputy Lord Mayor of Sydney from 1995 to 1999.      He was born to Hakka parents in Jiangxi province, China and qualified as an architect before entering Australian politics, becoming the first member of the City Council of Sydney.   He was responsible, together with his business firm, Tsang and Lee Architects, for the construction of the Cabramatta Mall south-west of Sydney city centre, Darling Harbour Chinese Gardens and the Dixon Street Chinatown mall in down town Sydney.  


Henry attended Sydney's Vaucluse Boys' High School after migrating from Hong Kong.   He stepped down from political life after failing to declare gifts and paid accommodation from the Hightrade Group.    He was awarded an Order of Australia (AO) medal in 1991.

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