Manuel Ntoyai and Agencies
Kenyan-born lawyer Lucy Gichuhi is set to become the first person of African descent to be elected to Australian federal government.
The lawyer, who was second on the Family First ticket, will replace former South Australia state senator Bob Day in the Senate after the High Court in the country ordered a recount.
The court found that Day should never have been elected to the Upper House because he had breached the constitution in the lease arrangement for his office.
Gichuhi, who was born in Hiriga village, Mathira East sub-county, Nyeri, migrated to Australia in 1999 and became a citizen in 2001. She was second and the only other candidate seeking the South Australia state senate seat through the Family First party ticket.
“I am honoured and grateful for this opportunity to serve Australia. I see it as an opportunity to give back to this great nation,” Gichuhi said in a statement.
“I do not intend on commenting on the processes that have brought us to this point. As a lawyer, I am deeply respectful of both the legal and electoral processes.”
Already there are concerns over the eligibility of Gichuhi because of her nationality, a matter she says is a non-issue as she has never held dual citizenship, which could bar her from being a senator in the red chamber.
“I am an Australian citizen and I am eligible to serve. I will continue to take advice on all of these matters as we move forward,” she said.
Kenya’s High Commission counsellor in Australia Betty Kimurgor said Gichuhi’s automatically lost Kenyan citizenship when she became an Australian citizen.
If all goes well, she will be among the 12 senators representing the South Australian state.
Gichuhi is a volunteer lawyer, with a Bachelor of Laws from the University of South Australia and her Christian faith is the backbone of her political beliefs.
Gichuhi came into politics late in life, saying she “fell into it” after studying a laws degree.
“I just followed one step after another and I found myself in a situation where the political door opened and that’s where I am,” she said.
She said her Christian faith was the backbone of her political beliefs. She believes strongly in freedom of religion, but wouldn’t be drawn into debate on whether same-sex couples should be free to marry.
“I don’t want to talk about that now. I think it’s too specific,” she said.
Gichuhi insists she’s got what it takes to make it as an Australian senator. “I was tough enough to land in Australia 19 years ago knowing no one. Only with my husband and three toddlers,” she said.
She added she wouldn’t change a thing about the path her life has taken, despite the poverty she experienced as a child. “I think it was a rich life. Because this concept of poverty never existed in our mind,” she said. “ That taught us to share. That taught us to care.”