Women seem to be the expendables in Australia politics. Yet, even I was surprised how Senator Trish Crossin was treated by the ALP machine at the behest of the Prime Minister when she was replaced by NT Senate candidate Nova Peris.
No one can dispute the importance of an indigenous representative for the NT - especially one who will take her place in ‘herstory’ as the first female indigenous Federal MP- but the process has been questionable. The ALP federal record on indigenous representation is woeful, indeed negligible.
The Australian Democrats ensured indigenous representation (Senator Aden Ridgeway, who became Deputy Leader) at the 1998 election and, long before that, the Liberal Party set a standard with the election of the late Queensland Senator Neville Bonner.
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And so we begin 2013 back where we were at the end of 2011, with Julia Gillard giving us another demonstration of that famous political judgement of hers and pissing off a large swathe of the Labor Party.
Back then it was her petty, vindictive and undeserved shafting of Kim Carr from the industry portfolio that had many Labor folk shaking their heads. This week, of course, it was the petty, vindictive shafting of Northern Territory Senator, Trish Crossin.
If I were a Labor member the choice between Crossin and the Prime Minister’s “Captain’s pick” of Nova Peris, would be a difficult one. Crossin has been in the Senate since 1998, with the peak of her career being a spell as Deputy Opposition Whip between 2001 and 2004. The best that her colleagues seemed to be able to say of her is that she has been a tireless campaigner for the Northern Territory.
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So Prime Minister Julia Gillard has shoehorned Nova Peris onto the ALP Senate ticket, thus illustrating that her cackhandedness is no passing fad.
The former Olympian will be set to become the first Federal indigenous Labor representative, and the first indigenous female Federal pollie. About bloody time.
It is shameful it has taken this long – and it’s also a shame that it will be a tainted appointment.
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It really is difficult to keep track of Julia Gillard’s shifting priorities.
As she stood before the media in the Prime Minister’s courtyard yesterday, Gillard could only provide one justification for her decision to meddle in Labor’s preselection process and effectively end the 15-year parliamentary career of Trish Crossin by fiat.
She was “troubled” by her party’s historical failure to send a single indigenous representative to Canberra, and Nova Peris would help right that wrong.
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Julia Gillard today announced celebrated athlete Nova Peris would be the ALP’s first indigenous representative in Federal Parliament. Peris, who is not a member of the Labor Party, will be parachuted into the number one spot on the ALP Senate ticket in the Northern Territory, much to the disgust of the woman who currently holds that position, Trish Crossin.
The PM was unapologetic about dumping Crossin, who has been in the Senate for 15 years, describing Peris as a “captain’s pick”.
Gillard simultaneously declared her support for party processes, while exclaiming she was “troubled” the ALP had so far failed to send and Indigenous Australian to Parliament. After all, 42 years have passed since the Coalition selected Neville Bonner as the first Indigenous Federal Representative.
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