Keneally a great migrant story: Albanese

By Matt Coughlan
Labor has come under fire over the selection of Kristina Keneally for the Sydney seat of Fowler. (AAP)

Labor leader Anthony Albanese has hailed Kristina Keneally as a great migrant story with the party under sustained fire for parachuting her into a multicultural seat.

The former NSW premier and deputy Senate leader will contest the safe lower house seat of Fowler in southwest Sydney at the next federal election.

Retiring MP Chris Hayes backed local lawyer Tu Le to replace him but was overruled by the NSW Labor Party.

Ms Le, who has Vietnamese heritage, said the "debacle" highlighted a lack of diversity in politics.

"We know it happens a lot of the time on both sides of politics but I think now people who couldn't care less about politics are more engaged," she told ABC radio on Tuesday.

"They're furious in fact. The public commentary about this clearly shows their rage."

But Mr Albanese defended Labor's credentials, pointing to his Italian surname and the party's Senate leader Penny Wong as examples of diversity at the highest levels.

"The Labor Party has done an enormous amount for diversity," he told reporters in Sydney.

"Kristina Keneally was born in the United States, came to Australia, and is another great Australian success story of a migrant who's come here and became the New South Wales premier."

Labor has come under fire over the selection of Kristina Keneally for the Sydney seat of Fowler. (AAP)

Ms Le said she was disappointed for the community, which felt it did not get a say in who represented them.

"I grew up, I live, in this area and I fight for this area every day in my life as a community worker, as an advocate, an organiser and a lawyer," she said.

Senator Keneally will move from her home on Sydney's northern beaches to the multicultural area.

Mr Albanese has spoken to Ms Le about the situation, which he said happened from time to time in competitive politics.

"I've encouraged her to hang in there. She's 30 years old. I think she has a very bright future ahead of her."

Senator Keneally has criticised media coverage of her Labor colleagues questioning the party's commitment to diversity.

Labor MP Anne Aly branded the decision a huge failure for diversity, while veteran politician Joel Fitzgibbon said not selecting a local candidate was a shame.

Mr Albanese has pointed to Ms Aly's Egyptian heritage and fellow MP Ed Husic's Bosnian background to show multiculturalism in the caucus.

He has also noted Indigenous MPs and senators Linda Burney, Pat Dodson and Malarndirri McCarthy.


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